Who Is My Neighbor?

June 24, 2016

“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36)

 Jesus was the absolute master storyteller of parables – stories that illustrated His teachings.  A lawyer asked Him the question: “Who is my neighbor?” In response Jesus told a parable about a man who was mugged and left half dead on the side of the road.  When a priest saw him he passed by on the other side of the road and did not get involved.  A Levite, or Temple assistant, who traveled that road did the same thing.  Then a traveling Samaritan came down the road.  When he saw the helpless man he gave him all the first aid he could, put the man on his animal and took him to an inn where he paid for his care.  Jesus then asked, “which of these three was neighbor..?

This parable presents three philosophies of life.  The mugger’s philosophy of life was: “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours will be mine as soon as I can take it.”  The religious professionals in the story believed: “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours.”  The philosophy of the Samaritan was: “What’s yours is yours, and what’s mine is yours any time you need it.”  That is obviously the philosophy of life Jesus is teaching us through this parable answer to the lawyer’s question.

May I ask you to get real and ask yourself which of these three philosophies of life and neighbor is yours?  Do you believe people are to be exploited for your personal gain?  Do you not want to get involved?  Or are the people who intersect your life an opportunity for service?

Dick Woodward, 14 February 2012

Indwelling Love = Outpouring Love

October 14, 2014

“…And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (ICorinthians 13:13)

How does love fit into this trio of lasting qualities Paul writes of? The Apostle John answered that question for us when he wrote:  “God is love and he who dwells in love dwells in God and God dwells in him.”  (I John 4;16)  When we dwell in the love Paul prescribed (in I Corinthians 13), we dwell in God, and He dwells in us.

By application, this means when we go where the hurting people are, as His love is passing through us and addressing their pain, we are touching God and He is touching us.  Since the agape love passing through us is God, we are dwelling in God and He is dwelling in us while His love is passing through us.

Jesus gave us love perspective when He exhorted the apostles to look up before they look on the fields that are over ripe for harvest. (John 4:35)  The Lord was focusing on two perspectives we must master as His authentic disciples.  Before we look around and relate to the people who intersect our lives every day, we are to look up and then look at them. We should see them through the same “love lenses” God uses when He sees them.  If we do, we will never see anyone we cannot love.

Jesus also taught that all the commandments of the Scriptures are fulfilled when we love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:35-40) His parable of the Good Samaritan answered the lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbor?’ by stating any hurting person who intersects my life and needs my help is my neighbor.  (Luke 10:29-37)

I was seeking a relationship with God when I first discovered these profound teachings.  As a social worker in a large city, I volunteered to be on night call every night for an entire year.  That year I discovered  it is possible to touch God and be touched by God while being a conduit of His love.

I learned that seeking God is not an either/or, but a both/and proposition.  We are liars if we say we love God, Whom we cannot see, and do not love the people we can see.  Each time I was called out at night to be with hurting people, I asked God to pass His love through me and address their pain.   My experience can be described this way:  “I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God but my God eluded me. I met my neighbor and I found all three.” 

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love

Philosophy of Neighbor

February 12, 2013

“‘So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?'” (Luke 10:36)

I heard a businessman say, “There are two things to be gained in every business deal: money and experience.  When you do business always get the money and give that other person the experience!”

According to the way the parable of Jesus ended with the verse above, when a devout disciple of Jesus is involved in a business deal, should they always get the money and give the other person the experience?

Jesus taught this parable in response to the question: “Who is my neighbor?” In His answer Jesus presented three philosophies of neighbor.  “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours will be mine just as soon as I can take it.” That was the philosophy of the thieves in this story.  “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours” was the philosophy of the religious people Jesus profiled here.  Jesus’ philosophy of neighbor, however, was showcased by the Samaritan in this way: “What’s yours is yours and what’s mine is yours any time you need it.”

How should that philosophy of neighbor impact the way we do a business deal as committed followers of Jesus Christ?  The way we answer that question should make us think about our entire philosophy of life and not just our philosophy about how we do business.

What is your vision statement and what are your mission objectives in life?  Is your vision statement to get rich and are your mission objectives all the ways you can think making money?

What is your philosophy of neighbor?  Is your own personal vision statement in alignment with the philosophy of neighbor Jesus taught us?