Loving Our Neighbors

The tragic events of last week’s killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during traffic stops and the ambush of Dallas police officers during a peaceful protest have sent shockwaves through our city and country. God has given us grace to grieve and mourn these losses, to provide a space for people to ask “why?”, and to take time to kneel in penitence and pray for mercy as we did Sunday night. These activities are ones that we’ll need to engage in often and for some time as the grieving process runs its course. Don’t be afraid to face the questions you have inside, the racism that you have been complicit in or the victim of, and don’t lose hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

The most immediate and acute challenges facing us will be the call by Jesus to be a neighbor and to love our neighbor. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus describes a man who falls into the hands of robbers and is left for dead on the side of the road that runs from Jerusalem down to Jericho. A priest and a Levite both pass by on the opposite side of the road. Yet, a Samaritan, someone who is decidedly not part of the nation of Israel and someone who would have been the victim of much racism in his day, stopped and cared for the man left for dead. He “bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine” (34). This phrase is reminiscent of the ways the prophets said God would reach down and heal his people. It is extravagant - oil and wine were commodities of great value. And it is healing - he not only go the man to safety, he took care of his wounds binding them up.

 

How may God be calling you and me to love our neighbor? How may he be asking us to look upon those who are different from us and be a presence of healing and God’s extravagant love?

 

One thing is for sure, as Christ’s Body, his Church, we are not only called but gifted, anointed, and filled with God’s Holy Spirit in order to be that healing presence, where the oil and wine of God’s extravagant love are poured out on everyone around us. This can happen in informal ways as we simply do life with those in our families, neighborhoods, businesses, and community. But it can also happen in more formal and concrete spaces as we invite those who are not part of Christ’s Body into  his fellowship. Pastorates which will resume in September are a perfect space for this as we invite people into our homes for a meal, a discussion around Scripture, and prayer. 

 

Bless you as you love your neighbors -

 

Jay+