Love Thy Neighbor

August 17, 2010

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” – Luke 10:33

It was once explained to me that the reason we are commanded to love our neighbors and to love our enemies is that they are often the same people. We can see how this bit of philosophy was developed if we closely examine the story of the Good Samaritan.

Notice that the Samaritan was from an ethnic group that the Jews positively despised. And, while the assaulted man was repeatedly ignored by his own people, the hated Samaritan willingly gave aid to the injured Jewish man. Now, if Jesus were telling the story in Israel today, He might change “Samaritan” to “Arab Muslim.” Or, if He were speaking to Palestinians, He might say it was an “Israeli soldier” that helped. If He were speaking to liberal Democrats, He might change “Samaritan” to “conservative white Republican.” If He were speaking to conservative Republicans, He might change “Samaritan” to a “liberal black Democrat.” Whomever Jesus would be speaking to, He would replace “Samaritan” with that group’s current enemy. That’s how Jesus expects us to define the term neighbor.

One reason Christianity is so unique is that we are called to love our enemies. We’re called to be fair with them and compassionate toward them and to demonstrate love – even if they hate us. God’s Word is clear: You can’t claim to love God and not love your neighbor. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan so we would be clear who our neighbor is and go and do likewise.