Focus 40 Day 6: Extreme Living – Making the Neighborly Connection
Prayer Focus: Pray for love in your family – Ex. 20:12, Eph. 5:28 and 33
Extreme Living—Making the Neighborly Connection
“And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
—Matthew 22:39 (NRSV)
WHENEVER I WENT OUT to dinner with friends at the Global Gathering last year, we would inevitably run into other Church of God folks. As we made introductions, the questions tended to be the same: “What church do you pastor?” “Are you so-and-so’s daughter or son?” “What congregation did you grow up in?” “Who was your pastor growing up?” We were in a familiar circle, and we all wanted to know how we were connected.
I was driving down our street one after-noon as the garbage collection truck came down the other side of the street. In the two seconds that I made eye contact with the truck driver and we acknowledged each other, I found myself musing over what it would be like to ask him those questions. Who lives in his household? And who is he connected to?
Throughout Scripture, we find the phrase “your neighbor” used repeatedly. The Ten Commandments tell us not to bear false witness against “your neighbor” and not to covet “your neighbor’s” property. The wisdom of Proverbs teaches against harming “your neighbor.” Paul and James all remind us to love “your neighbor.” Jesus himself taught that one part of the greatest commandment is to love “your neighbor.”
I find it interesting that the English translation uses the word your. It suggests there is a relationship, or perhaps simply a connection to this “neighbor,” similar to how we might use it to describe “your par-ents,” “your church,” or “your pastor.”
In Luke 10, Jesus explained that to “be a neighbor” is to show mercy. It means we are to show mercy even if we didn’t know which church “our neighbor” goes to or pas-tors, who their parents or pastors were, or what congregation they went to while growing up. It also means that even if we didn’t know them, we already are connected by the very nature of their being “our neighbor.”
Which means that the father that I pass by walking his children home from school is also “my neighbor.” And the elderly woman who sits in a different pew from me each Sunday is my neighbor. And the teenager that bags my groceries at the store is my neighbor. And not just because they live in my neighborhood, but because we really are all connected—if for no other reason than simply because they are my neighbor.
Because “love your neighbor” already denotes an immediate connection, we are no longer separated by six degrees. We are all each other’s neighbors, and we are all connected. And we all belong to each other.
Jesus, you taught us that we should love our neighbors. Help us to see each other as you see us—as one people connected because of you. And teach us to love our neighbors today. Amen
Jael Tang, Church of God Missionary to