Grace Notes

Grace Notes: Who Is My Neighbor?
By the Rev. Tar Drazdowski
Posted July 25, 2013

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski.

My sermon two weeks ago was based on the 10th chapter of Luke. This scripture gives us a guide for how to inherit eternal life. In verses 25-37 we witness a dialogue as Jesus offers a man a challenging question. He asks him, who was a lawyer by profession, what the law said about inheriting eternal life. Jesus, of course, already knew the answer and as it turns out, so did the lawyer. The man answered, we are to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

The man then asks Jesus a final question, “And who is my neighbor?”

We find ourselves more than 2000 years later asking the same question. “Who is my neighbor? Who are our neighbors?”

If we’re honest, we may have the same opinion of another Bible character. Jonah hated the people of Nineveh. He didn’t want to deliver God’s message to them and he certainly didn’t want God to spare them. Do we not act like this at times? We tend to pick and choose who we WANT to be our neighbor. It’s a culling process as we choose this one to be in and that one surely not. We want God to have mercy on those we care about and justice on those we do not.

In reality, all of God’s children are our neighbors, no exclusions, no exceptions. Perhaps instead of asking the question who is our neighbor, we should focus on the first answer the man gave Jesus. By loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we just might forget to be exclusionary.

Jesus ends this conversation with the lawyer by telling him the story of a man who had mercy on an abused stranger. Jesus then instructs him to, “go and do likewise.” As we love our neighbors, all of our neighbors, and welcome them with the same mercy given to us, we will remember we belong to each other and that the Kingdom of God is at hand.