Read: “The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:29, NLT).
Think About It: There was a story once told of a hometown whose local community was celebrating a monumental occasion. The city pool was commemorating ten years of fun summers with no incidences of drowning or safety violations. With the date set, the caterers on the ground, music blaring, and the town’s political leaders all on hand, it was a party to be remembered. Lifeguards past and present were all on deck reveling in the unparalleled accomplishment of the highest standards in safety. As the festivities were winding down and the final photos were snapped of local dignitaries shaking hands, and most people had exited the pool and were heading for home, a startling discovery was being made. No one had noticed that in the deep end of the pool a young man had fallen in, and unable to swim, had drowned. How does someone meet life’s end from drowning in a small-town pool that is overwhelmed by generations of life-guards and civic leaders who pride themselves in looking after the “little guy.” In their excitement of the attention on all they had done and could do, they lost sight of the responsibility they had for those closest to them.
Going Deeper: Jesus told a heart-wrenching story of His own to those who had attempted to challenge Him on what God really required from those who wanted to inherit eternal life. “Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Though it seemed like an easy answer to throw back into Jesus’ court, the religious scholar wasn’t expecting the counter-question that Jesus would ask. “Well,” as you can imagine Jesus inquiring in a tone that was calm, but with a focus that held firm, “who is your neighbor?” The challenge was simple, yet direct. It was a change in perspective. Jesus was calling them away from a self-focused viewpoint to one that was intentionally aware of the “neighbor” around them. In His story of the “Good Samaritan,” Jesus issued an indictment on those who were closest to the traveler that was beaten, robbed, and left for dead, as it was a culturally implied scoundrel that came to his rescue. “Who is my neighbor?” Contemporary society teaches all that are within the sound of its deceptive voice that your life is to be lived focused on yourself. With a message that epitomizes the self-focused culture that has become commonplace, it has been said that sometimes “you have to honk your own horn, otherwise nobody’s gonna know you’re comin!” The same is true with the Church. Jesus did not call those who are Christ-followers to look after themselves, but to take responsibility to care for the “neighbors” around them. It’s the life He led and the legacy He left.
Next Step: The Bible teaches that a “neighbor” is anyone that is close in distance or in relation. It is a responsibility you have for those God has woven into the fabric of your life. They have a responsibility to you, as do you have for them. Think about your own family. What responsibility do you have for their overall welfare? How can you apply that in the relationships you have in the church community God has placed you? How can you live that out? What does the church look like if you don’t?