And who is my neighbor?
April 29, 2019
And who is my neighbor?
Love your neighbor.
No qualifiers or exclusions apply.
In fact, when asked for clarification - “And who is my neighbor?” - Jesus told a story that shocked the crowd. They would have gasped at who Jesus named the hero of the story. A Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37)
We often call him the good Samaritan. But the idea that a Samaritan could be good, let alone the hero of the story, was unthinkable for most in the crowd who first heard him tell it. But that’s the point. Neighbors aren’t limited to those who look like us, think like us, act like us, believe like us...neighbors act with compassion.
We answer the command to love our neighbor when we show mercy and extend kindness.
Recent developments in our community and state have forced me to wonder if we are being neighborly enough.
In both the recent debate over hate crime legislation at our State House and the debate at the HSE School Board over an anti-bias policy - a difficult topic has come to the forefront. We often find it challenging to speak about topics that we struggle to understand.
Sometimes we push back against that which we don’t understand simply because we don’t understand it.
But loving our neighbor means acting with mercy and kindness - especially when they are at greater risk.
There are members of the School Board and representatives in the State Legislature who have been unwilling to write classifications of sexuality and gender identity into policy and legislation designed to offer additional protections to particularly vulnerable people. I have a hunch that some believe, if we don’t say these things, maybe they’re not real. Others might fear that naming those who identify LGBTQ would be some form of endorsement they are personally unwilling to offer.
But naming these vulnerable neighbors matters. It unambiguously extends protection that helps the neighbor at risk. Seems to me, that’s the kind of love that Jesus teaches me to extend to my neighbor. Unfortunately, policies and laws will not always stop hate-fueled acts of discrimination and violence. They do, however, announce that we (our schools, community, State) oppose such acts. As Christians, we stand against hate in every form.
Let’s follow our Lord’s command to love our neighbors. Let’s extend protection, mercy, compassion and kindness - in policy as well as behavior - to every neighbor, especially those facing greater risk.