Years ago when the PBS show was on, “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood“, and it still may be on (my son is 18 now so we don’t watch much PBS anymore); it was familiar like a sweater that you had worn for many years. Do you wonder about who is your neighbor and how they should be your neighbor? In the culture that we have today, I don’t think many people think about this much at all. Even Christians who are supposed to be doing this seem to let it slide or just don’t think about it much.
Our revival at church is going on and last night we had a great sermon on Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan. It touched a lot of hearts and I think opened some people’s eyes to the fact that we do fall short in our lives on a daily basis. Do Christians sin on a daily basis? Yes, we are human after all. Do we fail to be real, true neighbors to those in need around us on a daily or weekly basis? Unfortunately, yes we do. Granted, some of us do fulfill the function of being a neighbor at least to some extent, but do we try to do it very often?
We pick and choose who we will help and how much. We are selfish in our helping and that is not being a good neighbor. Consider this: if you knew of a family who lives close by that was struggling with bills because of illness or loss of a provider, would you pay their bills for them? Would you offer to do so? I don’t mean by putting yourself in debt, but if you are able financially to help, would you? Most would not. Which is a sad part of today’s Christians.
The early church that you read about in Acts showed a group of believers who sold much of what they had, if not all, and gave to each other as the need arose. Were they being neighbors? I think so. We hear the Biblical wisdom which states that “the love of money is the root of all evil” and it is true. But, that is when you put money in the place of God, not when you use your wealth to help others. So, why don’t we do that?
Is it so hard to see someone struggling because of hardship of one kind or another and then not do anything to help? “That’s not my problem” or “I don’t want to get involved”; those are the same attitudes which the priest and the Levite showed in the parable which Jesus told. They were too important or too busy to help that man, but the Samaritan wasn’t. He stopped and bound the man’s wounds and carried him to an inn. Then gave the innkeeper two denarii to take care of him and promised to pay more if it took more than that.
So, in this instance which of the three men who came by was the man’s neighbor? The Samaritan. Even though they were hated by the Jews, the Samaritan did everything he could do and more for this man that he didn’t even know. Why can’t we do this? A better question would be “Why don’t we do this today?”
I think it has something to do with our American independent spirit which most of us grew up hearing about in movies and TV. Be yourself, pull your own weight, be independent and don’t ask for help, if you are honest with yourself you know as well as I do that children hearing those things and seeing them in movies and TV will grow up to be that way. Independence is good but each person living for themselves and only themselves makes for a very different country and a much different society. But, that is what the world is heading toward.
Pray about this in your life and talk about it at church because our world NEEDS Christians who will be neighbors and friends, they just don’t know it yet.