Who is our neighbor? When this answer was asked of Jesus, the response was – anyone who is around us. The story of the Great Samaritian showed that to be true. It wasn’t the person who should have helped- who should have shown himself to be a neighbor to the hurt man. No, it was the last person you would expect.
I have found the same to be true lately. The people who are closest to me are not always to people in closest proximity. Yet, we are called- called to minister. Not just to those who are near us. Not just to those who it is easy to love. We are called to show
The people that automatically come to mind as neighbors are those I live with. My family. These are the people I live with. How generous with my time and resources am I with those who are closest to me? It would seem that we are the most generous to them- but they are often the first we take from. We need to remember that our family is our first ministry. Behind God, they are our first priority. Yet, they are often the ones we are quickest to give our least to – the end of our resources. We need to give them the best of us.
The next people are those who are truly our neighbors. The ones who live in front, behind, and beside you. We live in a culture that doesn’t know their neighbors anymore. You give the casual wave as you drive out the driveway – but yet, we give no care to their deepest need – the way they might be poor – in their relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to take back hospitality and get to know our neighbors.
What about the homeless? The less fortunate. You may even know their faces in your community. Are you blessing these people – or just scared of them. I do think we need to use caution – but I believe God places them in our lives for a reason.
Lastly, I want to take a step out even further. To the widows and orphans. The book of James tells us that true religion is in how we care for these important people. If you have spent any time here at all, you know my heart for adoption. It goes beyond the baby I am going to one day hold- to all the orphans- the 101,666 orphans world wide – that don’t have a home. That are poor. They live in less then great conditions – or are born to parents that can’t take care of them, but don’t feel like they have an option either. The wonderful women who choose life for their babies – even at the cost of their own. Then, the widows. The ones we have left behind. They feel uncared for by the world. They need encouragement. A meal. Cards at the holidays. A visit. Simple moments of our time, that show that they are still cared about – after the one human in the world who loved them with all their being is gone. These two groups of people will pull at your heart strings, stretch you – and push you beyond yourself. We need to extend the mercy of God to these.