Not My Neighbour

Some lawyers ask too many questions.

One day Jesus is rudely interrupted by a lawyer in the crowd who poses a question,” What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Rather than telling him to shut up Jesus responds, “What is written in the Law?” 
To this the man proudly quotes Deut 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…”

But for some reason he adds to this a partial sentence from Lev 19:18, “and your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus says to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.

Now if someone tells you…wait not just anyone but when Jesus tells you “DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE,” just do it!!  I mean keep quiet. Don’t ask any more questions that might incriminate you or add to the already tall order. But for this lawyer Jesus’ answer was just not good enough. No he had to demonstrate more ignorance, as if in his mind he was in an imaginary courtroom and Jesus was on the stand. Lawyers. Maybe it was simply that confronting rabbis was something of a spiritual gift for this guy.

Nonetheless he queries, “and who is my neighbour?”

I understand the need for more information. But I would have rather enjoyed to ponder my “neighbour” in a figurative sense. Surely everyone knows who their neighbour is? It’s just that some of them happen to be harder to love than others. Why ask, “Who is my neighbour?” If Jesus answers specifically, you are locked in. His response might make things much more personal. No more chances to plead your case.

I would rather not make this personal. Don’t make this about my literal neighbors. Certainly don’t make it about my neighbour’s kid “J”. He is cute and all, it’s just he has no boundaries. He sees us coming from blocks away, it’s like he has radar tuned in to the hum of our minivan’s engine. He’ll come running, shouting in a hoarse voice with a strong Punjabi accent, “Sam my bikah has no air.” What he means to say is that his bike tire needs to be inflated. This is actually good news because sometimes his requests are more involved like borrowing tools, coming in to play, fixing his grandpa’s unfixable bike and more.

Don’t ask Jesus…because his response to the question might just include this young little snot licker.

Jesus didn’t answer this lawyer’s question. Instead he tells a story; a story with a plot, real characters, drama, and heroics. It’s the parable of the Good Samaritan. And that parable seems to poke fun at the lawyer’s nationality and people type…the Jews. The story, all the while, elevates a ‘loser,’ an outsider, a Samaritan as the hero.

I am wondering if that story was more about the lawyer than anyone else.

I am wondering if that story isn’t about me. Me and the rights I need to lay aside in order to have compassion on my neighbour kid much like the Samaritan had on a man dying on the road (I’ll save that for another blog).

Am I the only one who wearies of helping the neighbourhood kids with the compassion of Jesus? I enjoy driving into the garage and shutting the door quickly like every other Canadian with a garage and a car.

Yet only hours ago, as I got home from unpacking this Luke 10 story with a bunch of high school students heading out on mission trips; there came J again running, racing me right inside my garage and standing there so close to my van door I almost hit him as I got out. I chuckled out loud. From deep down came a love for him I have not felt in a long while (maybe it’s because he wasn’t asking me to do anything). All he wanted me to see was his new spinning top and yes he wanted to press the button to close the garage door for his ‘buddy’ Sam.

How do you get on with loving your neighbours? Sometimes I get the sense that others are a whole lot better at it than me.


2 Responses to Not My Neighbour

  1. Thanks for this post Sam, I can agree with you, others are better at this than me as well. This year “neighbours” mean a totally different thing. It all began in September, living with 20 strangers who have now become family to 4 teammates living cross-culturally doing everything together. I can’t come in and shut the door or run into my apartment until I am ready to face the world, nope none of that. Tight community living where you know what is happening with everyone. These are my neighbours, to love them as myself. Then the neighbours extend to this wonderful relational culture here in DRC, everyone is your neighbour! I pray for more love and to have compassion as the Samaritan did, yes we think we have so many “rights”, I am also learning the importance of spending that time with God as Jesus did, He had to get away from the crowds, that is very real here, you cannot leave your house without thousands talking to you, wanting something from you because you are White and in order to respond as Jesus did, it is crucial to have that time alone with God.

    • Marina, these are some very thoughtful insights. And right from your personal experience no less. I also appreciate your comments on protecting/finding personal time. This is super important. I think it has to much to do with the rhythm we see Jesus live, as he nurtured his relationship with the Father. I also think Sabbath is a must for all believers. You need to find places and times to practice rest and be renewed, the way you do it will be very different than other people.
      I think it would be interesting to ask a few of your Congolese friends to get their reflections on the Sabbath, how do they find it, what does rest mean to them? I imagine their response to be very different than ours. :)

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