Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: How to be a good neighbor

Who is My Neighbor?
A guest post by Sherrinda Ketchersid

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 
–Luke 10:27 (NIV)

The Bible verse above stands out as a cornerstone for building bridges on the journey of racial reconciliation. Everyone around us is our neighbor, no matter the color of their skin or their economic status. When a teacher of the law asked Jesus Christ what must one do to inherit eternal life, Jesus asked him what the law said. The teacher replied with the scripture listed above: Love God and love your neighbor. 

Then the teacher then asks the question: “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29 NIV)

Jesus proceeded to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). A man was beaten by robbers and left for dead. A priest walks by but doesn’t stop to help the man. A Levite walks by but doesn’t stop either. A Samaritan comes along and helps the man. He even takes him to an inn and pays for the man’s care. This Samaritan was a true neighbor.

Now, the remarkable thing about this story is that priests and Levites were held in high esteem among the Jews, but Samaritans were snubbed. Samaritans were considered half-breeds. When the tribes of Israel split and became Judah and Israel, Israel was captured by the Assyrians and the Israelites intermarried with the Assyrians. They became known as Samaritans and were outcasts among the Jews.

But Jesus says the Samaritan was the good neighbor—not the priest and not the Levite.

Loving our neighbor is loving those who are outcasts, those who are in need, those who are marginalized and taken advantage of. Loving our neighbor is loving those who are different from us. Now you might live in a neighborhood where everyone looks like you. That is hard to change, right? But Jesus and his disciples give us an example of seeking out those who are different, those in need, and those who need a good neighbor.

After Jesus was baptized and then tempted by Satan, he began his ministry by moving from Nazareth to Capernaum in the area of Galilee. He went to a place unfamiliar to him. He lived among people he did not know. He walked the beach and called the disciples, who became his new friends and would eventually lead his future church (Matthew 4:12-25).

Jesus later sent his disciples out into the surrounding towns and neighborhoods. He led them to neighborhoods they probably did not want to enter and encouraged them to talk to people they might not otherwise (Luke 10:1-23).

Now, I’m not saying we have to move to more diverse neighborhoods to further racial reconciliation, but there are ways to “walk the beaches” as Jesus did and make new friends. We can shop at stores owned and frequented by people of color. We can eat at ethnic restaurants. We can visit churches that have more diversity in their congregation members and leadership.

If you have young children, seek out diverse friendships at your kid’s sporting events. If you are an empty nester, look to make friends at your city’s recreational center that hosts games or exercise groups. There are many ways to seek out diversity in the circles in which you live. You just have to put forth the effort to do so.

My prayer is that we follow the example of Jesus and his disciples as we learn how to be a good neighbor to those who are different from us. I pray that we love people as Jesus loved them, and seek the best for those around us. I pray that we can go beyond our sphere of influence and be the neighbor who walks the path of racial reconciliation.

Loving God and loving our neighbor is key for all who are traveling this road that leads to Heaven, where we all will be reunited with our Savior and each other for eternity.

Author Bio:

Sherrinda Ketchersid is an author of historical romance and a minister’s wife who loves to paint in her Bible. 

She loves to read, spend time in her flower garden, and try her hand at new crafts. She likes to blog and is part of a group called The Writers Alley. 

Sherrinda lives in north-central Texas with her husband of 35 years. With four grown children, three guys and a gal, she has more time and energy to spin tales of faith, fun, and forever love.

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