17 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – Who is my Neighbor?

Greetings Dear Reader,

Before I can venture into what I am to do about enemies I must understand who my neighbor is.  Jesus commanded me to love my neighbor as well as my enemies.  This is the second commandment and he equates it to the first.  He says it is one of the two foundations on which everything else is built.

The word we translate as “neighbor” actually means “friend”.  The contrast then is quite significant.  Further the flavor of the word is that of anyone of our “tribe”.  It is our community that we are to love.

This means that I do not have to know someone to love him or her.  Just because they are a part of my community is reason enough to love.  So even people in my community that may be in opposition to my faith and practices are still my “neighbors”.  If I wish to believe that I am following Christ I must love them all.

This means that in contrast my enemies are not part of my community.  If I am to love everyone in my community I need to look further to find who my enemy is.  Before I spend too much time identifying enemies, however, I should assure that I am loving my neighbor.

According to this the man across the street is my neighbor.  So is the guy at the gas station who takes my money.  The server at the diner is my neighbor.  The stranger sitting next to me at the movies is too. 

When I consider who my neighbor really is I come to a very serious conclusion.  I am required to love everyone around me.  I am required to treat them well.  It is my responsibility to love, unconditionally, everyone who fits this definition of neighbor.  If I am not working towards this in every encounter then I carry the name of Christ in error.

This means that at the community level I have not political, social, or religious enemies.  They are all my neighbor even if their beliefs are contrary to what I consider the truth.  I wonder if we see how huge this is. 

Things that I think are morally wrong are never an excuse to be unloving and unkind.  At the social level I must love to follow Christ.  The meanest vilest person in the community is worthy of love.  That is what is to set me apart.  Everyone around me should feel loved when they interact with me. 
That alone is a tough chore for a fallen man who struggles with his own selfishness and greed.  It is only by constant practice of this that I can hope to attain it.   The exercise here for me is to try and list a valid reason not to love someone that Christ has commanded me to love.  I come up empty if I try.

The Basin and the Towel – Michael Card

And the call is to community…

In an upstairs room, a parable
Is just about to come alive.
And while they bicker about who's best,
With a painful glance, He'll silently rise.

Their Savior Servant must show them how
Through the will of the water
And the tenderness of the towel.

And the call is to community,
The impoverished power that sets the soul free.
In humility, to take the vow,
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

In any ordinary place,
On any ordinary day,
The parable can live again
When one will kneel and one will yield.

Our Savior Servant must show us how
Through the will of the water
And the tenderness of the towel.

And the space between ourselves sometimes
Is more than the distance between the stars.
By the fragile bridge of the Servant's bow
We take up the basin and the towel.

And the call is to community,
The impoverished power that sets the soul free.
In humility, to take the vow,
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

No comments: