Have you ever walked into a party or a get-together and asked yourself (hopefully in your head) some form of the question: “where are MY people? Where are the people I fit with?”
We’ve all asked some form of that question before. It could be at a work holiday party, a large family reunion, a school event or any other similar scenarios. All through life we are sizing people up, comparing them to our required standards for association and making a judgment about whether they are “my kind of person”.
Some of these examples are harmless of course, you can’t be best friends with everyone and aren’t expected to simply comply and bond with all 8 billion people in the world. It does, however, make sense to do some self-analysis and ensure that we aren’t missing the point of the Gospel in the name of social norms.
In Luke 10:25-37 we see a familiar parable of the Good Samaritan. There are so many deep directions this parable can take you but for today’s purpose, I want to focus on 1 aspect.
In this story, an expert of the law presses on Jesus to find out who his neighbor is, or better put who his “people” are. This was his failed attempt to make sure that he perfectly splits the necessary hairs and serves and treats well ONLY those who are actually his “neighbor”. Jesus proceeded to flip our entire view of human interaction with his response.
He begins to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan and at the end, he asked the question “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
What I believe is shown in scripture here is the posture of our God is NOT to ask “Who is my neighbor” and then to go serve those people, but rather ask “who can I serve?” and in doing so, BECOMING a neighbor to them.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t tell us that man who fell into the hands of robbers was a neighbor to the Samaritan. Instead, he implies that the Samaritan choose to help where others who were arguably of the same “circle” did not.
If we stop segmenting people groups and races and ideologies and just start serving others in love they way Jesus himself would, we would act less like the Lawyer. We would ask “who is my neighbor? a lot less.” Our service would create a deep and wide unity that extends beyond the boundaries of our “camp”.
We’re never going to be perfect, we’re going to get it wrong a lot. But I believe in order to serve and influence people the way Jesus did, you need to be willing to be accused of being just like them. It’s a posture of saying “I am going to be a neighbor to these people – no matter what the holy huddle at a church thinks.”
The disciples were a bunch of rowdy fishermen. Young, naive and rough around the edges. Yet Jesus chooses them and used them to build the global Church.
Matthew was a tax collector, the worst of the worst. A thief and swindler. A low life. Jesus ate with him in his home, and so did the other disciples.
Matthew 9:11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
To become a neighbor to all and not just find a neighbor you identify with, you have to be ok with being accused by the religious folk because you’re hanging around the wrong people. That’s Jesus. That’s the love and passion of our God. Setting aside what anyone thought or felt about him just to sit with and serve me, and you and everyone else. We’ve all missed the mark and fallen short, but Jesus wants to be our neighbor and wants us to model that as well.
As we prepared to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a few days, let’s remember why He came and the incredible grace He shows to us all.