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Jesus said in Matthew 22 that the whole Bible is boiled down to two things:
Matthew 22:37 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor (the loner, the talker, the grouch, the giver) as yourself. (ESV)
The term “neighbor” that Jesus used here was not ambiguous. It simply meant: those in close proximity. Those who Jesus has put in your path.
Knowing where to start is often the hardest step. Going from the theory of loving your neighbor to actually loving. Here is a simple framework to view your relationships:
Stranger > Acquaintance > Relationship
That looks so simple and basic. It is. I highly encourage you to start framing your connections with this categories. Simply seeing them in that light will get the ball rolling.
Here are some people that you might encounter in your hood!
Today, I want to show you the 3 basics of loving our neighbor…
1. Loving Your Neighbor starts with meeting your neighbor.
Couple weeks back, I asked everyone to name the 8 people that live the closest to you. If you haven’t done that exercise, then now is the time. You can start right now, you can sit at the kitchen table and do it with your roommates.
This is crucial. It starts making you analyze the status of you and your neighbors.
Are they Strangers? Are they Acquaintances? Do we have a significant relationship?
“Hey, I’m Robin. I know that you have told me your name, but I’m not great with names and have forgotten it.”
“Hey, I’m Robin. We wave to each other all the time, but I actually don’t know your name. “
Then, remember it until you can get home and write it down on your paper!
Eliminate Strangers on your street. Loving Your Neighbor starts with meeting your neighbor. Baby Steps!
2. Loving Your Neighbor means hanging out with your neighbor
We have so many excuses: We don’t have time. We don’t like them. They are involved in some unholy things.
Jesus gives us the ultimate example of this. He calls Levi to be his disciple in Luke 5 and then Levi throws a party with all of his unsaved friends!
Luke 5: 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
We are called to help the sick get well. The problem is that we think we are only allowed to hang out with well people.
Jesus was confident in his role as Son of God. His identity was secure. The temptation to be like the tax collectors and the sinners would not be acted upon because Jesus was well grounded.
Levi was throwing the party. Levi is creating an environment where the people he knows well can interact with Jesus and his new friends.
Jesus is questioned by the religious leaders and has every opportunity to apologize for spending time with sinners. Yet, Jesus does the opposite. He defends his right to be there. He doesn’t back down.