Love Everyone as Your Neighbor

This is Day 6 of a deep and meaningful look at what Tom Holladay calls “The Relationship Principles of Jesus“. I will be diving into what this book ultimately explains: the greatest commandments and how they apply to us. At the core of these commandments is relationship. I understand that this may be a lot of information, but it is broken down into 6 sections which are further broken down into 40 days.

Over the last couple of days, we have learned about what Jesus stated in Mark 12:29-31, which is:

29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus brought the people back to the beginning principles laid out and given to Moses and thus given to all Isrealites. We can find these sayings in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18b. These foundational principles have been with the people of God for a very long time, and the people have probably grown up and memorized these words along with many other Scriptures. Jesus was pointing out what was clearly already given knowledge even though certain people of the group He was speaking to were trying to cause Him to err. He could have walked away from these people and not engaged with them. However, being God AND man, love took over and taught them what was the most important truth that they could build their relationship with Him on. Love God and love people. It is simple, but it is difficult for broken people such as myself.

Today (in this section), Tom Holladay teaches about loving everyone as our neighbor. Most anyone who has been to church for a given amount of time has probably heard of the story of the “Good Samaritan“. Holladay points out two values on how we love others. First, we must love everyone, and second, we must love someone.

In order to love everyone, we must take the limits and restrictions off of who we love. There are certain groups or descriptions of people that are like us. So, that makes it easy to love them. But what about the ones that are not like us? What about the ones that don’t act the way we think they should act or talk the way we think they should talk? What about the “rough around the edges” people? What about the ones that have messed up in a major way? Or the ones that don’t talk to anyone? Or the ones outside of our social or familial groups? Can we love those people, too?

We need to take the limits off of the groups of people we deem eligible to be loved by us. However, it is so easy to limit our love for several reasons. One of the reasons for not loving everyone is that we may differ in some way. We may have differing opinions and outlooks about certain situations or political beliefs. Without getting into a big debate, I think most of us (at least in the United States of America) can agree that the past couple of years have been one gigantic chaotic event with a bunch of little chaotic events happening within it. It has made the news difficult to watch for me. And seeing the hatred and violence go on serves as an example of what NOT to do. Yes, there were some good outcomes, but they were overshadowed and forgotten about by the not so good events.

Many enemies were made over the last couple of years, I would say. And I don’t mean making enemies with someone because their dog pottied on your lawn. I mean one political belief against another, one socioeconomic group against another, one ideology against another, etc. It is easy to show love to people that agree with you, but what do we do with those that don’t agree with us? Jesus taught on that as well in Matthew 5:43-44, when He said to “love your enemies”. What a concept! Isn’t this what God did with us? We who were once at enmity with God (we were enemies), He forgave and loves us. Jesus, being our ultimate example, shows us how it is to love your enemies as He died for us all.

Another reason we don’t love others can also be, as Holladay says, because of our fears. He noted that it was a great risk for the Samaritan to stop on that part of the road because, oftentimes, thieves would set a trap for travelers. One of the thieves would pretend to be hurt, and when a well-meaning person would stop to help, the other thieves would come out of hiding to rob, hurt, and even sometimes kill the traveler. It was a low-down, dirty rouse, and it was well-known. So it probably happened frequently. Many would shy away from helping anyone on that 17-mile road between Jerusalem and Jericho that seemed to be hurt. And this caused much fear to be produced, which was bad on society as a whole. If someone got hurt, no one would help them. If someone stopped to help someone hurt, they may get hurt. That is too much hurt. “It’s always a risk to love.”

Holladay quotes C.S. Lewis in this section, which says:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1960), 169.

To love is to open ourselves up to others. We can be cautious in our love for others, but the first thing we must do is eradicate the boundary lines of the amount of people we love. “No one is outside the bounds of my love.” Who is the person in my life I need to take the risk to love? Is it opening up to and fully loving your spouse? Do you need to love your in-laws? What about the neighbor who puts up opposing political sign in their yard? Or the one who has done things that you don’t agree with, but they got a flat tire and need help? Do you stop and help them, or do you pass them by as if not to see them?

Be honest with yourself. Now this does not mean that I am advocating for us to put ourselves in compromising positions. We still live in a broken world. So we still need to take care and protect ourselves. But the main point is to love everyone. [Yes, you can love others from a distance]

Gotta go fill up my cup…..

Published by Coffee With Candee

I am married and I have four sons that are my whole world. I have a relationship with God through Jesus. Oh, and I have a blood cancer that has no known cure as of yet called Multiple Myeloma. Go Coffee!!!

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