How are you with your neighbors? Do you get along with them? Are you looking out for them? Do you even know who they are? Do you know that Jesus has redefined who your neighbor is? Have you thought about that?
We all have neighbors. For some of us, our neighbors are the people who live on the other side of the wall, above us, or below us in an apartment complex. For others, they live in the house next door in a neighborhood. For farmers, your neighbor may be some distance down the road.
We think of our neighbor as someone who lives close by. Yet Jesus redefined who our neighbor is. When we think of the story of the Good Samaritan, we find that the good neighbor happened to be someone who lived far away from the injured man and someone he would normally hate.
During His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated that we are to love our enemies. He reversed the old Jewish saying. For all intent and purposes, Jesus was saying that everyone is our neighbor. We don’t really like to think of it like that. We like to hold our prejudices, grudges, and rivalries. We like to point our finger at “them.” Doesn’t is always come down to “them” being the problem? It isn’t on us. At least, that is how our mind wants to twist it.
Jesus was a revolutionary. He commanded those who were listening to Him, and us, to love all people. That is absolutely countercultural for us. It goes against our innate feelings and emotions. We have bad or hard feelings toward certain people…and we like it, we don’t want to let them go.
How can we overcome our feelings? We pray. Pray that God remove those bad feelings toward the other person. Continue to pray that prayer until they go away. Make every attempt to see the other person as Jesus sees them—a child of God, someone God created. No, it isn’t easy to do this, yet we are called to do it by Jesus Himself. I can promise you, from my own personal experience, the blessing you receive from doing so will far outweigh the hate you harbor.
I pray we all strive to love everyone. I pray we pray that God remove our hard feelings. I pray each one of us decides to follow Jesus’ command to love all people and pray for them. Know that everyone is your neighbor. Love all people. Choose to love rather than hate. See all people as God sees them. Be a good neighbor.
Matthew 5:43-45a “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”