And Who Is My Neighbor?
Thank you! Thank you very much!! That was so kind of you! You really shouldn’t have. Really, thank you! These were, in my opinion, the exaggerated words of gratitude, from a Hindu, as I voluntarily pulled down his luggage from the overhead compartment above us on this morning’s flight back to Dallas.
The question, "Who is my neighbor?" is really the same as asking "Who is my friend?" I believe the answer is someone who does not measure the cost. "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give." This is the philosophy of Christ and of the protagonist forever known as "The Good Samaritan."
A friend is someone who helps you when you just can't do it on your own. This parable revolutionizes the way we see each other and the way God wishes we help one another. We are to see one another not as an object but as a subject - another I. "Love your neighbor as yourself" or to be more specific, "Love one another has I have loved you." What exactly does this mean? The parable given to us by Christ highlights certain demands placed on the Christian. We are to love without compensation; to remain, if possible, anonymous in our love and care; to go beyond the immediate need of the other; and to consider the delays or "nuisances" along our journey as part of our "Journey" that ultimately creates our destiny. This kind of friendship (really, love) is impossible if we do not love God with all our mind, heart, soul, strength and will. For this reason, the first commandment is above the second!
Who is this "Good Samaritan?" It is unfortunate that the Lord cannot point to anyone among the crowd or among his followers. Instead, he must resort to a parable that points to a futuristic figure - himself.
We are Christ’s witnesses that it pays off to be a "Good Samaritan." After all, look at what he has done for me! We could never exaggerate our gratitude towards Him.
Once again Jesus leads the way because he places his love in the Father first. He is the one that forfeits his “savings” for our salvation; who insists on remaining anonymous; who appears as a foreigner in his own land; who saves those wounded by sin, wounded by evil beings, who cannot save themselves; and who demands nothing in return from us except to "love one another as I have loved you." In this life, we may not find a good friend or a good neighbor. Who cares! The Lord does not call his followers to find a good friend. He demands that we make good friends, regardless of who they are – Jew or Gentile, woman or man, sinner or saint. Jesus asks us to love our enemies - like me!