But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29
My high school was a huge, open-space sprawling complex that warehoused over 1500 teenagers. The lockers really were big enough to stuff a kid into, the football stadium was named in honor of our janitor, and no one smoked in the bathrooms because we had an actual, school-sanctioned smoking area (the eighties were strange). There were lots of groups in my high school- jocks, geeks, theater kids, punks, metal heads, skaters, cheerleaders– and somehow I was friends with all of them.
I didn’t fit in, so to survive high school I adapted– I fit in EVERYWHERE. It wasn’t because I was cool, coordinated, funny or artsy (trust me, I wasn’t). It had nothing to do with the clothes I wore, the bands I liked, or the fact that I attended summer school to TRY to pass algebra for the third time.
Nope, I got to know people who didn’t look or think or act like me because I was simply willing to meet them. Talk with them. Listen. Look for things we had in common. Not feel threatened by our differences.
Being willing to meet people who didn’t look or think or act like me got me through high school. And college. Living in a foreign country. Working in a factory. Teaching middle school. Moving to a new state. Carpooling teenagers. Being part of a church.
And it’s what is getting me through this “BREAKING NEWS” summer of terror and fear and hate and anger.
“Who is my neighbor?” Like the expert questioning Jesus, we are still trying to come to terms with what Jesus means when he commands us to love our neighbor, with exactly WHO he means for us to love. Because let’s be honest, it’s easy to love people who like what you like, do what you do, live where you live. But what if EVERYONE is our neighbor? Not just the people who are like us, who agree with us, who believe what we believe? Because according to Jesus, everyone is our neighbor. There are no outsiders or insiders, no us or them, no black or white, no red or blue. We are sent to “love people”, not “love just some people”.
If you missed the announcement Sunday, actionchurch has been give the opportunity to participate in North York Borough’s “National Night Out” event. This night is a long running event designed with a mission: to “connect police officers and community members by going outside as a way to improve relations”.
I invite you to join actionchurch from 6pm- 8pm on August 2nd at the North York Park (305 east 5th Avenue). Come a little early to help set-up. Hang out at the bounce houses. Serve some shaved ice. Temporarily tattoo some kids. Meet the hundreds of people who live within walking distance of actionchurch, the firefighters and police officers who serve and protect. In the middle of this long, hot, “BREAKING NEWS” summer, come out and love our neighbors.