May 18, 2024

Who is My Neighbor?

Luke 10:25-37

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

—  Luke 10:27

Soon after we moved into our house, new neighbors moved into the house next door. Their children were the same ages as ours. We found that we shared many of the same values. They were good neighbors, and our kids played together and even slept over at each other's houses. My neighbor also knows that he can borrow my pickup truck whenever he needs it. Sometimes I smugly think, “I love my neighbor as myself.”

A teacher of the law tried to test Jesus by asking the way to eternal life. Jesus answered by summarizing God’s law, saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” Perhaps the teacher of the law should have left the matter there. But then he also asked, “And who is my neighbor?” He likely expected Jesus to say something like “Your neighbor is someone who has the same faith and values that you have.” But Jesus took the conversation in a much different direction. “Your neighbor,” Jesus said, in effect, “is someone with a different ethnicity and religion, from a people you generally despise. . . . Now go and love him too!”

Thank you, Jesus, for pushing us out of our comfort zones. Thank you for reminding us to love people who are different from us—even our enemies—for we are all created in the image of God. Amen.

About the author — George Koopmans

George Koopmans has served as an ecumenical chaplain at Medicine Hat College in Medicine Hat, Alberta, since November 2021. Prior to entering into chaplaincy, George served as a pastor to two congregations—one in Minnesota (Luverne), and the other in Medicine Hat. George and his wife, Emily, have four adult daughters and three grandchildren. Hiking, biking, and birdwatching are his favorite hobbies.

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