Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38This is the first and greatest commandment.39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

This raises two questions – we’re going to look at the 2nd question now and the first question later in the month.

The 2nd question – Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself.    Who is my neighbor?

Well, for me, it’s obviously Randy and Angela to the west and Renault and Tedra to the east.    But that’s the easiest answer.    And I don’t believe that even scratches the surface of what Jesus means.

When Jesus says love your neighbor as yourself, do you think he is only referring to the people who live right next to you?   I don’t.

Is He referring to the family down the street where he lost his job?

Is He referring to the guy in line behind you at Starbucks?

Is He referring to the homeless downtown Grand Rapids (insert the big city closest to you?)

Is He referring to the politicians who are littering the airways with baseless accusations against each other in a hopeless effort to get you to think they are the “right one for the job?”

Is He referring to the children at the local public school who, without the Friday afternoon back pack club, wouldn’t get enough to eat over the weekend?

Is He referring to the children in foster care?

Is He referring to the orphans in Haiti, Ethiopia, Uganda, Liberia and all over the world?

Is He referring to those with Ebola?    Those who are fighting Ebola?

Is He referring to the refugees in Iraq and Syria?   To the brutal militants who are murdering so many and making so many others in to refugees? 

Is He referring to the person sitting next to you at church – the one who might be feeling lost.    The one who had a really hard week and needs some encouragement?

The answer to all of those questions is a resounding

YES!

In this instant communications world, we can find out things almost real time.    There has been more than one time where I’ve found out things that are happening in Haiti before many people there have.

But that brings with it a couple of challenges for the church……

  • Obviously, one church can not solve the entire world’s problems, so a church needs wisdom to discern where they are going to use the resources that God has given them.
  • A church can’t use the “head in the sand” system of avoidance.    We can’t sit back and ignore emergency situations that happen around the world.    Even when a  church has chosen where to use their resources, they need to be open to emergency needs and respond to those above and beyond their planned assistance.    The earthquake in Haiti, the tsunamis, the Ebola outbreak, the crisis for Christians in Iraq, hurricane relief – all examples of the type of assistance where our neighbors around the world need help and they need it now.
  • Immunity – no, not an immunity idol that will help you survive, but we all need to work towards not being immune to the needs of others.    Don’t tune out the problems on the other side of the world.    Don’t tune out the problems on the other side of town.    Respond where you can, pray where you can not respond and impact the situation.  

The reality is that in today’s world, our neighbors are everywhere and anywhere.    That can be overwhelming and can lead a church to say, “It’s too big, there are too many problems, we can’t fix them all.”

God isn’t asking one church to solve all of the problems, but He is asking every church to look beyond themselves and to love their neighbors.

Wherever they are.

However they can.

It’s that cup of cold water thing.   Smile

Tom