“Loving Your Neighbor”

(J. R. Miller, )

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“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

What is it to love our neighbor? It is the loving that is hard. We could do almost anything else, short of loving unpleasant neighbors.

But love is the word–and no revised version changes it. No matter how disagreeable, unlovely, unworthy, our neighbors may be–still the commandment persistently and relentlessly says to us, “You shall love him!

Our neighbors are around us all the time, needing our love. Indeed, they touch our lives so continually, that we must guard our every look, word, and act–lest we hurt some sensitive spirit.

Some people seem to forget that other people have feelings. They are constantly saying words and doing things which give pain. True love is thoughtful. We ought to train our hearts to the most delicate sense of kindness, that we may never, even jokingly, give pain to any other human being.

Our neighbors have hearts, and we owe to every one of them–the beggar we meet on the street, thedegraded wretch we find crawling in the mire of sin’s debasement, the enemy who flings his insults in our face–to every one, we owe the love that is thoughtful, gentle, and gives no hurt.

Our love ought also to be patient. Our neighbor will have his faults. But we are taught to bear with one another’s infirmities.

If we knew the story of men’s lives, the hidden burdens they are often carrying, the unhealed woundsin their heart–we would have most gentle patience with them. Life is hard for most people, certainly hard enough without our adding to its burdens–by our criticisms, our jeering and contempt, and our lack of love.

Why Too Many Christians Fail To Love Their Neighbor

~ Daniel Darling

Who Is My Neighbor?

He approached the controversial, itinerant rabbi seeking validation. He’d lived an outwardly observant life, adhering strictly to the Torah, so his question to Jesus wasn’t really a question. What would it take for this seemingly righteous man to inherit eternal life, he queried. What he hoped Jesus would say or rather, assumed Jesus would say, is You’ve kept the law faithfully. You are in (Luke 10).

Jesus asked the lawyer a lawyerly question: “What’s in the law?” Jesus didn’t ask this because he was ignorant of Moses’ words. Jesus, the Son of God, was present at the writing down of the commandments and, through the Holy Spirit, inspired this Word of God.

No, Jesus was trying the lawyer by his own self-justifying grid. He was standing before a judgment seat and didn’t know it. The lawyer repeated what he repeated every morning: Love the Lord thy God with all of my heart, soul, and mind and love my neighbor as myself.

Good, Jesus commends, “do this and you will live.” But suddenly the lawyer began to tremble. Deep down he knew that as much as he followed the law externally, in his own heart he had violated the law. He had not always loved his neighbor as much as he loved himself. So he asked a qualifying, self-justifying question:  Who is my neighbor?

This question was not a question of curiosity, but a question in search of loopholes in the command to apply the law of God to our interactions with our neighbors. It’s a question that continues to be asked today. All of us know we haven’t loved our neighbors as ourselves. And, like the lawyer, we are exposed before a righteous God.

To Love Is to See Dignity

Why is this commandment so important? It’s important on two levels. Because every human being—every neighbor of ours—is an image-bearer knit and sculpted with care by a loving God, we demonstrate our love for God by our love for fellow humans in our world.

But this commandment is also important because it is the aspect of the law that reveals our inability, since Eden, to obey God. Righteousness before God is not just vertical piety. It is also horizontal love. But sin has corrupted our humanity, and we attempt to usurp God by preying upon, in big and small ways, our fellow humans.

To love people as ourselves is to see that other human being as . . . well, human. Not an obstacle. Not an animal. Not a god to be worshipped. Inherent in The Great Commandment is the Bible’s rich and unique vision for human dignity.

Your neighbor is not a mere object to be lusted after, murdered, or stolen from. He or she is your fellow image-bearer.  This lawyer thought he was okay until the piercing eyes of the only One who has ever fully and perfectly loved His neighbor revealed the depravity of his heart. Jesus does this to this outwardly religious man by telling a story about the vulnerable and the pious.

Jesus answers his question “Who is my neighbor” by saying that your neighbor is that person you are most likely to pass by on the road to Jericho, the person or people group that you, because of your tribal affiliations or personal biases, consider less than human.

The lawyer was not as righteous as he thought he was because he doesn’t always love his neighbor as himself. And neither are we. But there is good news for less-than-neighborly lawyers and 21st Century passers-by like me. Where we have violated God’s law of love, Jesus has perfectly fulfilled it.

Read more: https://corechristianity.com/resource-library/articles/why-too-many-christians-fail-to-love-their-neighbor

 

Cell groups – only place for true edification

Here is a challenge by cell group leader Ralph Neighbor

Clearly, it is only in the Cell Group setting, where intimacy and close communion is made possible, that true edification can take place.  . . .

What shall we say, then, brothers: When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. ~ 1 Cor 14:26

Did you miss the word “everyone?” Don’t! the hcurch (whether evangelical, charismatic, or pentecostal) has been missing it for as long as I have been alive.The clear teaching of Scripture is that the highest form of spiritual life we can experience is going to take place in a Cell group, where every sngle Christian becomes a channel of charismata (grace gifts) and the group is built up as a result.

~The Shepherd’s Guidebook, p. 164-5