TUESDAY May 19, 2020
One of the things I am wrestling with, which I think is a sound Biblical principle, is that I don’t have to like someone in order to love them. The Gospels repeatedly speak of loving your neighbor as yourself. In Luke’s Gospel one those hearing that injunction, “wanting to justify himself said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”
Just about everybody is familiar with the response, because Jesus went on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example. “Who,” he asks at the end of the story, “was a neighbor of the man who fell among the thieves?” And everybody had to say, “Well the one who helped him.” Or slink away in silence because they did not want to admit to the truth they knew.
The thing we often forget is the level of animosity between Jesus’ Judean audience and their Samaritan neighbors. It would be like telling a group of Democrats that one of their own had fallen into the hands of thugs, and while they stood by watching, it was a Republican who rescued him. Or vice-versa. Make it about politics, make it about race, make it about any of the great divisions of our day, and flip the script. The “bad guy” becomes the “hero.” Why? Because that is the individual who steps up to act in love toward a stranger in need, who proves to be a genuine neighbor.
Now the hard part of that story for me is that, not only do I not have to like you to love you, it is incumbent upon me to love you even when I don’t like you. Because you see, the New Testament definition of love is not attraction or desire, but rather to be concerned about and zealous for the good and welfare and well-being of the other. Ouch. In this day and age, that lesson is as difficult as ever. And I, personally, get reminded of that every single day. But then again, God-willing, maybe you are doing better at it than I am. As James reminds us, blessed are those “who are doers of the word and not just hearers.”
Grace and peace to you all.