“The Art of Neighboring: Who Is Your Neighbor?”

On April 8, Pastor Jim preaches on Luke 10:25-29.

This week your pastors are starting a series of sermons inspired by the book The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. If you are so inclined, why don’t you find a copy and read along with us?

The central statement of Jewish belief is called the “Shema” and is found in Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is your God, the Lord is One.” Following the Shema is the great commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

In Luke, chapter 10, a lawyer tried to test Jesus. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”

The lawyer borrowed from the Shema and added to it. In addition to loving God with “heart, soul, and strength,” he added “mind.” Loving God with one’s mind is old-time Methodist religion. 🙂 We have been called the religion of the “open heart and the sound mind.”

Amazingly the lawyer also added, “and your neighbor as yourself.” Altogether he said in verse 27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Where did the lawyer get this?

Maybe he had heard Jesus say this. In Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

From the context it’s clear that the lawyer wasn’t really seeking truth. He was trying to trip Jesus up. In Luke 10 the lawyer had a follow-up question: “But who is my neighbor?”

Ah, there’s the rub. Who is my neighbor? Who is yours?

Many of us take the commandment to love our neighbors as a call to be nice to people in general. Could it be that when Jesus said “neighbor” he meant that we are supposed to love and care for the people who live in our neighborhoods?

Yikes!

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