“Who is my neighbor?”

Posted Oct 11, 2021

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Daily Scripture

Luke 10:25-29

25 A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?”

27 He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” [Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

29 But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Reflection Questions

Legal experts (“scribes”—religious lawyers) worked closely with the Pharisees in ancient Judaism. This legal expert, a skilled interpreter of religious rulings, asked Jesus a rhetorical question. He knew the answer. So did Jesus, and invited him to live it out. But the savvy lawyer, knowing that “neighbor” was a nuanced, complex noun, pushed Jesus for a legally definitive answer: “Who is my neighbor?” And Jesus, as Bob Goff might do, answered with a story (we’ll read it tomorrow), not a legal claim.

  • In Jesus’ day (and still today), the Talmud was a collection of discussions and answers about Jewish history and law. It helped Jewish culture think about how to apply laws to everyday life. But people interpreted the law (like modern laws) in various ways. The legal expert, knowing different teachers gave different answers, tried to trip Jesus up by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” “Neighbor” can still mean different things. Who do you see as your neighbor(s)?
  • In our culture, we often don’t have to meet even our closest next-door neighbors. Electric garage door openers let us stay in our vehicles and enter our homes through an interior door, without having to set foot outside. We can go days without laying eyes on a single neighbor. Who might you see or reconsider as a neighbor if you limited your use of such isolating conveniences?

Prayer

Lord God, I want to love you with my whole heart, whole mind, and whole soul. I want to love my neighbor as I love myself. Help me open my eyes to see the neighbors who live, work, and breathe all around me. Amen.

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Kersee Meyer

Kersee Meyer

Kersee serves as a Video Producer on the Communications team. She has called Church of the Resurrection home for most of her life. She loves to spend time with her husband (Drew), son (Emmett) and pup (Louie).

It’s the simple things I feel like we really try to overcomplicate as citizens of this wonderful Earth.

Who is my neighbor? My answer is anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter where you came from, what you’ve done, what you’re going to do-–Jesus loves you and because of that I get to call you neighbor.

Just like this legal expert, I think we like to try to get out of it sometimes when it isn’t easy or no longer convenient. Having everyone be your neighbor is like having siblings. I love my siblings, but we don’t always get along and our relationships can be tough to navigate.

Luckily for us, Jesus didn’t call us to always agree with our neighbors. We are called to live like Christ, right? If Jesus loves everyone then I want to try to live like him. I fail at it often, but I start with the easy stuff. I try to hold the door for people, smile when someone is passing me by, I like to wave at people as I’m taking a walk in my neighborhood. Again, all easy stuff which I think God is happy about, but I think God's calling me to a more radical kind of love.

How can we radically love our neighbor this week? Is it praying for the person you think you hate? Maybe trying to listen to a different point of view from someone you completely disagree with? My way of radically loving neighbor, especially the ones I feel it’s harder to love, will be to root for them, to hope and pray for (and if possible help in) their success.

I’d like to share this Cleo Wade poem from her book Heart Talk:

do you think
mother nature
cares
that any of her
Beautiful flowers
Grow in an array
of shades and sizes?

or that one grows
In this direction
and one grows in
that direction?

no,
she puts all of them in her
magnificent garden
so they may
be together
and
root
for each
other

Who is your neighbor and how will you radically love them this week?

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