Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 7 - Love Someone as Your Neighbor

If you have been reading along in The Relationship Principles of Jesus, by Tom Holladay, on Day 6 you learned that God expects us to love everyone as our neighbor. In other words, as Tom Holladay puts it, we cannot limit the extent of our love. But, an equally important point covered on Day 7 is that we must limit the expression of our love. God does not expect us to try and meet the needs of every person, rather he expects that we show love one person at a time.

The New Testament is full of examples where Jesus has demonstrated how we should show love. In the book of Luke, Jesus was visiting the home of a Pharisee when a woman entered the home. In Luke 7:37 we read that the woman was living a sinful life. I’ve always found it odd that a sinful woman would be able to just walk into the home of a religious and political leader, but maybe she was a “servant” who worked for the Pharisee. Anyway, the woman approached Jesus, with a large bottle of perfume, and begins to wash the feet of Jesus. When the host witnessed this, he began to question the authority of Jesus as a prophet. Surely a prophet would recognize this woman for who she was and not himself to be defiled by the woman’s touch. Rather than recoil and pull away from the woman, Jesus defended her and showed her the greatest act of love – forgiveness.

In John chapter 4, Jesus shows another example of loving an individual. Jesus was passing through Samaria on his way to Galilee when he came upon a well and stopped for a rest. A Samaritan woman came to the well and Jesus asked her for a drink. Now if you remember from yesterday and the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jews and Samaritans did not associate. The request even took the woman back, and she questioned if Jesus realized he was speaking to a Samaritan. Now I don’t think Jesus was really thirsty here and the passage never mentions if his request was fulfilled. I think Jesus was taking the opportunity to show love to an individual who society would have expected him to ignore. Not only did he show her courtesy by speaking with her, he took the opportunity to share God’s love with her and explain how things were about to change. No longer would there be a set of religious expectations for Jews and another for Gentiles. This was a radical idea at the time. The Jews were God’s chosen people. To suggest that everyone would have the same access to God was unheard of. Yet Jesus took the time to explain this to a woman that I expect most of his disciples would have failed to even acknowledge.

I need to love more like Jesus. I don’t want to even try and count the number of times I’ve chosen to ignore when something as simple as a smile may have made a difference to someone. The number of times I’ve thought that something or someone wasn’t my problem is shameful. I’m not talking about dedicating my life to a cause or traveling to another place to pay my penance. I simply want to show love when I can and not take the easy way out by ignoring a person in need. I’m going to take Tom’s advice and pray for God to teach me to love my neighbors the way he would want me to.

Day 8 - Impossible Challenge

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