How we answer the question “Who is my neighbor?” has a lot to say about our priority to love people who are different from us. It doesn’t take much imagination for each of us to figure out who Jesus would use as an example of “neighbor” in our hometowns and cities.
The parable of the good Samaritan clearly defines our “neighbor” as anyone at all whose need we see. I have been reminded by God many times that I am required to be kind to the unlikable and the unthankful and that I am required to show love to all people. Such love requires that I confess my sins and repent. It is hard work.
Do you ever look at neighbors you dislike as though they were inanimate objects and treat them as such? Jesus never did; He loved even His enemies. He did not seek to advantage Himself at the expense of others, and He surrendered the right to get even with His enemies. So our question “Who is my neighbor?” should be replaced by our asking, “Whose neighbor am I?” We cannot know beforehand whom we will meet, yet God places us in positions to be helpful. The immediate sight of a neighbor demands a gracious response.
I love the power of the words contained in Proverbs 3:27: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Often, our neighbors ask, “Where are the Christians?” Don’t make them guess. Assure them by the power of your Christian love.