“When Jesus said to love your neighbor, a lawyer who was present asked him to clarify what he meant by neighbor. He wanted a legal definition he could refer to in case the question of loving one ever happened to come up. He presumably wanted something on the order of: ‘A neighbor (hereinafter referred to as the party of the first part) is to be construed as meaning a person of Jewish descent whose legal residence is within a radius of no more than three statute miles from one’s own legal residence unless there is another person of Jewish descent (hereinafter to be referred to as the party of the second part) living closer to the party of the first part than one is oneself, in which case the party of the second part is to be construed as neighbor to the party of the first part and one is oneself relieved of all responsibility of any sort or kind whatsoever.’ Instead, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the point of which seems to be that your neighbor is to be construed as meaning anybody who needs you. The lawyer’s response is left unrecorded.” Frederick Buechner
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor
to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- “Anybody who needs you” is a pretty tall order. The next time you have the opportunity, can you just help “somebody” who needs you?
- Do you sometimes put forth reasons to absolve yourself from the need to help someone in need? Would they pass the Jesus test?
- If someone robbed your son, leaving him unconscious in a dangerous place, would you think passersby were obligated to help?
“Let nothing, O Lord, disturb the silence of this night.
Let nothing make me afraid. Let me wake refreshed,
ready to love and care for my neighbor
as you have loved and cared for me,
and indeed as I love and care for myself.
For if I do not love others
I cannot fool myself into believing that I love you.
I am, I know, as this day ends very far from such a love,
but hear my prayer.
When I see others, let me see you.
Let me show them the same reverence and respect
that I would show you.
If I love them, I will love you
and I will want for nothing.”
Teresa of Avila
For More: Wishful Thinking by Frederick Buechner
If you liked this, please share! – and thanks! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”
Buechner’s reflections are interesting, as they always are. But I think the point of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan is not that the man in the ditch was a neighbor. It was that the Samaritan behaved as the neighbor. The human calling is to neighborliness. By referring to the Samaritan, an outsider to those who heard the parable, jesus was saying that the neighbor is one who acts compassionately without distinction. Thanks for sharing.
I agree, the emphasis is on showing compassion without distinction. At the same time, I think the sense is “Be a neighbor to your neighbor.” Thanks for reading and interacting.
It may well say both these things.
My problem is often that there are too many people who need help and too little strength/resources to help them all.
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I know what you mean. It’s one reason I love the Heidi Baker quote about “loving the one in front of you.” That moves it from theory to practice, and from an emphasis on what others can do to an emphasis on what I can do. I can’t help everyone, but I can help some, and I can use my influence with others to encourage them to help too. Beyond this, I have to leave it to God, and pray “thy kingdom come….”
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amen to that…
Wow! Great challenge to remember our neighbors as anyone in need.