Jean’s Gospel: Who Is My Neighbor?

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12 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    But he, desiring to justify himself,<<<

    This is the phrase that is the source of most loopholes people use to get out of loving their neighbor.

    + It's the law
    + Those homeless people are con artists
    + They could get a job if they really wanted one
    + I am going to take care of my (well-fed) family first
    + I pay plenty of taxes
    + Add your own excuse here

  2. Jean says:

    Excellent point Xenia. The human race has learned well the art of self-justification.

  3. The New Victor says:

    There are boundaries, too, yes?

    When I volunteered doing event security at a homeless outreach downtown a few thanksgivings ago, we forbade anyone with weapons or doing drugs inside the perimeter. This was to protect everybody. One guy, on the meth, got belligerent. He wasn’t allowed in. Another guy was openly carrying a kitchen knife. We did bring him and his street gang plates of food, just outside the fence. I watched another guy, kind of shifty, walking around inside. I observed him stealing the coat off another person’s chair. I didn’t confront him, but when his back was turned, I put the coat back where he stole if from.

    At another event, there was a guy who was eyeing the children a little too closely. He looked gay (no better way to say it). Our pastor and a couple of other volunteers went to talk to him, and he confessed struggling with being attracted to children. We didn’t kick him out, but kept a constant eye on him.

    My mother, bless her heart, invited “neighbor” after neighbor to live with her on her property. Whatever happened, she ended up physically threatened and in danger, including being physically assaulted and having to get a restraining order on the last guy.

    Though it’s time, at 5, to move my daughter into the 3rd room, I’ve had that extra room for a while now. Should I invite someone to live there who needs it? Sure. I could have. However, my primary responsibility is to provide for and protect my children. If I don’t, I’m “worse than the heathens” as Paul said, no? I have provided help to people from time-to-time as needed, however, including to my mother in the past (which crossed into enabling her hoarding and wasting A LOT of money, but that’s another story).

  4. Jean says:

    Hi Victor,

    I agree with essentially everything you’ve said. Wise boundaries are certainly compatible with being neighborly.

  5. John 20:29 says:

    good observations being made off this lesson – IHMHO

  6. Owen says:

    Excellent lesson, Jean, thank you….

    And I’m in agreement with Xenia’s list of loopholes as well. I have been guilty at times of a couple of them.

    But then I’m reminded of the lyrics to a favourite song…..reminding me of all that I have been given.

    “There’s no one more thankful to sit at the table,
    than the one who best remembers hunger’s pain.
    And no heart loves greater than the one who is able
    to recall a time when all it knew was shame”.

    (Steven Curtis Chapman, “Remember your chains”.)

  7. Jean says:

    Thank you Owen. Very nice to hear from you!

  8. John 20:29 says:

    Jean’s lesson asks the question, “who is my neighbor?” … today one’s neighbor might very well be a dangerous person and, in that case, wouldn’t common sense would tell us to dial 911, if that person needed their wounds tended to?

    is there any lesson that tells us to bind our neighbor’s wounds even if we know we may well get shot doing so? dunno

    is it really true that every man on the face of the earth is my neighbor? when or where does common sense stop and self justification kick in?

  9. Jean says:

    “is there any lesson that tells us to bind our neighbor’s wounds even if we know we may well get shot doing so?” – Yes, it’s the story of the passion of Jesus Christ.

    “is it really true that every man on the face of the earth is my neighbor?” – Yes.

    “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

    “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

  10. John 20:29 says:

    Jean, perhaps the word neighbor means something different to you or my definition is too limited – dunno – i don’t see the obligation to meet the needs of every person on the face of the earth

    stepping back from the obvious: giving aid to the needy or not retaliating in kind when you are the recipient of persecution or hated… i must agree with New Victor that there has to be some discernment and some common sense, which is different than rationalizing our tendencies to be selfish, to indulge our wants over another’s needs

    just turning the lesson over and examining, as much as possible, all the ramifications

    “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” amen

  11. Jean says:

    “i don’t see the obligation to meet the needs of every person on the face of the earth”

    It never really comes to this, because we all fail regularly to be neighborly to people who we cross paths with locally. So, we don’t even need to wonder “how far away” or “how many in number” because we cross on the other side of the road the neighbors who God places right in our path.

    I am not authorized to blunt or soften the Law to meet our the needs of self-justification. I can only share it and let the Spirit do His work in our consciences. In connection with this Jesus said:

    “For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

    There is not a Law in the Bible which when heard should not cause us to repent of our unbelief. To penitent hearts which believe in His Son, our Father is merciful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    As New Victor questioned and I heartily affirmed, their is no Law against appropriate boundaries in the manner of our neighborliness. Boundaries are not only good for us, but are also good for our neighbors.

  12. Descended says:

    Jean

    Great subject and one we’ve been discussing in my classes. Have a question for you and others in Open Blogging 🙂

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