WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?
A lawyer wanted to know how to secure eternal life. Jesus referred him tothe Scriptures and asked the lawyer what the Scriptures said and what he understood from the Scriptures. The lawyer answered correctly, by identifying that the way to secure eternal life is to love God your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as oneself. Then the lawyer wanted to justify himself and so asked Jesus who was his neighbour. The lawyer knew there is only one God, coming from a Jewish background. So, no question about who God is. But who was his neighbour? There are so many people out there - whom among them would be considered our neighbour? If we can just limit it in some way, it would be more practical, won't it? Our resources are finite and the needs out there are practically limitless. Jesus' reply in the parable of the Good Samaritan is most instructive. I would like to share some perspective.
First, I think Jesus did not answer the lawyer's question. And I think this is probably deliberate. By telling this parable, Jesus is teaching us this: Who is our neighbour is not as important as who needs a neighbour out there. Our focus should not be on justifying ourselves ( as the record said the lawyer was attempting to do), but on meeting the needs of people out there. At the ending of the parable, Jesus told the lawyer to GO and do likewise. I understand from this that Jesus' key point to the lawyer was don't wait and sit around waiting for people to come to us, or worse still, waiting and debating the finer points of scriptures while hurting people are out there needing our help, needing us to be a neighbour to them.
Then, I recalled what Jesus revealed in Matthew 25 about a future judgement, the separation between the good and the evil, the sheep from the goats. Jesus revealed that on that day, the separation/the judgement will be based on the deeds we do now while we have the opportunity. We all have such opportunities everyday. It depends on what we choose to see and what we choose to do. Jesus revealed in Matthew 25 about doing good to even the least among us is what counts on that judgement day. Do you see the needy in your midst? Those who hunger, those who thirst, those who are lacking in this and the other? Do you remember those who are put away , out of sight, before of their faith and service to God? In those days, it meant in prison; in some places today, that is still the case. But, we don't need to look so far; how about those who labour in our midst for the Lord? In some ways, they too are in "prison", needing someone to come alongside, to encourage them to press on and not to lose faith.
Have we really understood the parable of the Good Samaritan? Are we doing what Jesus told the lawyer to do? To GO and be a neighbour to someone today. Everyday, you and I have this same opportunity to GO and be a good neighbour. Don't ask who is my neighbour. Rather, GO and BE the neighbour that someone needs.
May God bless you as you GO.