Who is Your Neighbor?
Humans like to feel accepted, comfortable, and safe. One way that we do this is by grouping together in “tribes”. Many people consider their family, their local congregation, and other groups of people who share a commonality with them as their tribe. The various reasons for grouping together are understandable, however, this turns into a problem when worldly differences become the primary focus over God’s unifying principles. Focusing on differences gives rise to partiality because of human standards. God’s children are commanded to uphold His standards above mankind’s. (James 2:8-9).
God has made every soul on this Earth and cherishes them incomprehensibly. In John 3:16 we are told, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The early church of Galatia decided to focus on the difference of physical circumcision in their church members. The church began teaching false doctrine, saying that a person must be circumcised in order to be a part of God’s church. The Galatians became overtaken by this false doctrine because it caused them to ridicule those who were not circumcised and led to division in the church (Gal. 5:7-10). Thus, Paul reminded the Galatians in a letter that Christians are to love God and their neighbor over human traditions (Gal. 5:13-26).
For anyone wondering, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus teaches the answer in the form of the Good Samaritan parable in Luke 10:25-39. In the parable a man is beaten by robbers and left for dead by the side of the road. A priest and a Levite pass the man by, leaving him to his fate. A good Samaritan passes by the man next and has compassion on him. The good Samaritan puts his whole heart into helping this stranger heal.
The Jews in Jesus’ time ostracized and felt superior to the Samaritans due to their religious beliefs. The parable told by Jesus would have been a shock to the lawyer who originally asked the question. The Good Samaritan parable shows that even the people who are looked down on can be more righteous than the people held in high regard. Jesus taught that everyone you meet can choose to be your loving neighbor, just as you have the choice to be one for them. Our neighbors are not defined by human limitations, but by God’s abounding love for all mankind. Wil you choose to bring glory to God by being a neighbor to others, or will you choose to let partiality divide?