-On the narrow road-
When you hear or read the term “Church” do you think of one role, or two? We use that term here in the US typically to mean a building where followers of Christ meet to worship God and fellowship, together. This is not actually Christ’s church, but a meeting of a portion of that church, in a building usually. There you will actually find a mixture of Christians and non-Christians. Christ’s church is very large, and they are spread out over the face of the earth!
I can’t know the heart of another, but I observe a lack of love in ‘meetings’ of Christians. I see a tendency to look as far as the immediate ‘circle’, but not too far outside that group of friends. I may be seeing the behavior of the non-Christians though, and not true followers. I even see neglect of new people coming to visit, often, when they don’t look like everyone else. Do you see it also? Or is it just my imagination? Be generous, especially with your heart-a generous spirit will see need as opportunity. Even though the world is cold, can Christ’s followers be cold also? No, we cannot.
If our English word “neighbor” had stuck to its etymological roots, determining who our neighbor is might have been a bit easier. “Neighbor” is derived from a German word that was a compound made up of “near” and “dweller, especially a farmer.” In other words, in centuries-ago Germany, a nahgabur was someone, likely another farmer, whom you knew because he lived near you.
But when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, He established a definition even older than Europe’s Middle Ages. Your neighbor is not someone who necessarily lives near you, nor does it have to be someone with whom you are acquainted. According to Jesus in Luke 10:25-37, my neighbor is any person who has a need that I am able to meet. Jesus made the point in His parable that the man the Good Samaritan helped was a stranger-not a “near-dweller.” Yet the Samaritan assumed the responsibility for doing everything he could to help.
Today we think of neighbors as those who live on our street or in our neighborhood. Yet, using Jesus’ definition, we have many more neighbors than those. We need to broaden the boundaries of our neighborhood to include the whole world.
“If my heart is right with God, every human being is my neighbor.” Oswald Chambers
The entire law is summed up in a single command:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
But it must not be like that among you.
On the contrary, whoever wants to be great among you
must be your servant,
and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all.
Commentary (paragraphs 3-5) from David Jeremiah Pathways Devotional, October 28.