WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
• Inspired by friends Kevin and Dorota.
• Jesus defined two sides of loving.
• Who is my neighbor?
• What about today?
I RECEIVED AN EMAIL TODAY FROM FRIENDS KEVIN AND HIS WIFE DOROTA. It was an appeal for money to support a young nurse in her education. It was a GoFundMe format that my friends helped set up. Not only that, the nurse lived in Tanzania, in Africa. They are dreadfully short of nurses over there: only one for every 27 patients.
I found this individual effort inspiring — to help a young person, who is not well off and living in another country. Despite the political confusion here in the USA over immigration, there are people in the USA who genuinely want to help disadvantaged people overseas. And there are many, many such people (across the world about 6,000 children die every day of causes related to poverty, according to World Vision.)
I WANTED TO FIND OUT IF JESUS SAID ANYTHING ABOUT THIS SITUATION. Big surprise! Jesus spoke clearly and strongly on the subject. I offer a summary of the story here, using my own imagination and interpretation.
• A well-dressed young lawyer asked Jesus what he needed to do to gain eternal life.
• Jesus bounced it back and asked the lawyer what was written in the old testament.
• The lawyer replied that there were two parts: Part A and Part B.
• Part A was to love God with all your heart, and soul, and strength, and mind. Jesus nodded. “Pretty good.”
• Part B was to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus smiled. “You are correct. Do this and you will live.”
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
• But the lawyer was uncertain about something. “So who is my neighbor?” he asked Jesus.
• Jesus hesitated and looked around at the listeners. Many were poor and needy, and just getting by. But also in the crowd were pastors and priests — religious authorities. Jesus was about to blow the listeners away.
• “First, your neighbor is not your neighbor meaning the folks who live next door. Instead your neighbor is someone you don’t know, or somebody that is very different from you.”
• Jesus gave some examples. “It may be an anxious young lady sitting in the dirt next to a flat tire in Albuquerque, with a grubby kid also sitting in the dirt. Meanwhile all the cars drive past without stopping, going home after church, or heading to their favorite restaurant. She’s your neighbor.
• Or it may be a nurse in Tanzania who doesn’t have the money to complete her training. She’s your neighbor.
• Or it may be a teenage boy in India who has been rescued from slavery and wants more than anything in the world to find an orphanage where he can feel safe and make a fresh start in life. He’s your neighbor.”
• This imagined discourse changes everything. The leading religious authorities realize they are hung up on local laws and regulations and personal standards, and they have missed the loving in Part B.
• The poor and the needy realize that strangers may come to their aid, even strangers from other countries. Strangers may share of their own time and energy and finances to help those who are genuinely down and out, and their hope rises up at Jesus’ words. Wow! Someone who cares may help us to hope again.
WHAT ABOUT TODAY: DO PEOPLE WHO FOLLOW JESUS IMPLEMENT BOTH SIDES OF LOVING? The conservative groups I have known best over the past 10 years score nearly 100% on Part A of the love commandment. They spend a lot of time reading the Bible, engaging with others they know in Bible studies, praying every day and attending church regularly. They’ll give you the shirt off their back.
But I wish time was made available in churches or home Bible studies to ask folks to share Part B examples of when they loved their “neighbor” as in people who have a genuine need and don’t know how to resolve it. Or people who are depressed and have lost hope. Or people who have lost a family member in some tragedy. Or people who are physically handicapped, or too old to drive. Or people on the margins of society – both in the US and in developing countries overseas. Such individual sharing would encourage others and perhaps be a motivation to add more personal effort into Part B of the great love commandment.
POST-SCRIPT: AN INDIVIDUAL EFFORT. Jesus was talking about an individual effort to help a neighbor, not a church program. It’s easy to support a church benevolent or charity program, and it’s a good thing to do. But there arise circumstances that only we as individuals become aware of. If we reach out to help, we may be able to resolve a problem by ourselves, or if it’s a big problem we could urge our church to get involved.
There are great organizations that do marvelous work overseas: drilling water wells, feeding sick children, saving and protecting young girls from sexual slavery. It’s easy to send money to organizations such as World Vision, Life Outreach International, or Doctors without Borders, for example.
I sent some money immediately to help the nurse in Tanzania with her education. Click HERE if you would like to donate also.
I can imagine the nurse waving at Americans across the seas and crying out to please share a little bit of what you have to help us to get on our feet down here.
PS: I write blogs about a curious mix of three topics: Science and Energy, Health and Hiking, and Inspiration and Hope. Something for everyone!
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The Gray Nomad ….. Read and reach out to “neighbors.”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan:
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” .
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” .
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” .
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. .
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ .
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
[Book of Luke, chapter 10].