Whether you believe that Jesus is the Son of God or not, you probably are down with the fact that he commanded the crowds to love their neighbors as they love themselves. It’s a seemingly simple command that any truly rational person can get behind.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
So why can’t we seem to do it?
Why is it that Whites hate Blacks and Blacks hate Whites and Latinos and Asians seem to be going unnoticed in the fray of the crap shoot that is our world? Why are police officers being shot and militaries starting coups against their leaders? Why do women still feel unheard and uncared for? And on a whole other level, why are there still Black churches and White churches?
It doesn’t quite seem like we’ve figured out what it means to love our neighbors, does it?
So if we have not figured it out, then what could it possibly mean to love our neighbors? Well, I’m glad you asked, because that’s the exact question I’m trying to answer.
Before I start typing out what I have figured out, let me clarify that I have merely thought about this. Putting it to practice is obviously much harder than it seems, but I feel like if we can practice together and fail together and succeed together, then success will be all the greater.
Here is the primary example I will use of someone loving their neighbor: Paul telling the church in Rome that if he could lose his salvation for the sake of the Jews gaining their salvation, he would do it.
Did you catch that? Paul says that if he could GIVE HIS SALVATION AWAY for the sake of other people, then he would do it. What?
The mixture of salvation and adoption is the ultimate freedom that any human can experience, and Paul would take slavery to sin in order for his people to have eternal life (if that’s how it worked). Would you consider that neighbor loving or nah?
Friends, do you know what it would mean for us to start loving our neighbor? Let me give a few yes or no scenarios:
- Would you be willing to give up your American freedom so that someone else could have it?
- Would you would be willing to let a lower-class person of a different ethnicity take your place and your freedom? Even for two-weeks?
- Would you would be willing to trade places with a Syrian refugee so that they could taste and know the freedom you never have to worry about losing?
Chances are good that we would answer “no” to every single one of those scenarios. At best, we would hesitate. Do we not realize how unbelievably selfish this is to not wish and yearn for the freedom of others?
Loving your neighbor means listening to and confirming your neighbor when they tell you that their lives matter.
Loving your neighbor means sympathizing and mourning with your neighbor when tragedy strikes.
Loving your neighbor means celebrating with your neighbor when it’s time to celebrate.
But people, loving your neighbor is far greater than any action. Loving your neighbor means fighting for their freedom physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
I think we are genuinely afraid to love our neighbor because “what if I fail”? Well, failure is inevitable and it’s what we’ve been doing for the past who-even-knows how many years. So, why don’t we at least try and test the waters? Who knows, maybe loving our neighbor is what will truly make the world better.
Here’s a fun feel-good song that’ll be stuck in your head all day long: