Thursday, August 9, 2012

Good Neighbors, Part III

"Who is my neighbor?"

That's been a question that has been asked since long before Jesus answered it with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Back then, you would have had to be fairly close by a person, in order to A.) know about his needs, and B.) be able to help in some way. But physical distance doesn't have as much to do with it, anymore.
With one click of a hyperlink on our computers, we can learn all that we need to know about an urgent need that we were unaware of before we clicked. We're told that millions of people "need us" and that millions more are ready to "partner with us" to solve the problem.  Instead of becoming easier, it has become much more complicated.
Have you ever wondered just when God expects us to take responsibility for the needs of others? What's more, have you ever wondered that, and then felt guilty -- because in the back of your head, you were wondering how little you could do, and still qualify for that rosy "I-helped-somebody" glowing feeling?
I searched for some verses, and found these to bring to you:
Deuteronomy 10:17-19
"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
"He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.
"Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

Matthew 5:43-48
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
"For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
"And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Anyone and everyone is our neighbor. Friends, strangers, and even enemies -- we are told to treat them all in the way that we would like to be treated in return.
It can be overwhelming, though, when we know of so many dire needs, so many people who need our help. Surely God does not wish for us to scatter our money and our time across the land, and come home empty-handed to the family who depends upon us? No, He doesn't want that.

I think that he tells us to first work in our own "backyard."  Go back and look at the Great Commission - Jesus tells the disciples to start locally, and then move outward, like the ripples from a pebble thrown into a pond. And we can use that metaphor, too.
          1. Decide to do for a few, what you would like to do for many. Don't let the thought of "all those people" that you can't help, be an obstacle to your helping the ones that you can.
          2.  Use those gifts! We've discussed how each of us has different gifts - skills and talents that we can use to serve others. Your special gifts will lead you to causes and issues that you can be passionate about.
         3.  Follow those passions to find the neighbors God wants you to help. Whether it's gathering fabric to clothe orphans in Malawi, working to assist someone with learning English, or some other wonderful idea, God can use you and your passions to find that neighbor and give them a hand.
God is at work in us and with us . . . He can use technology and our hands . . . we can help do the "even greater things" that Jesus said His followers would do!

1 comment:

Belinda said...

Since you told us what today's post was about, I thought about it yesterday and this morning. And I realized that God loves everyone the same. Be they good or bad, no matter their sin, no matter their race, no matter if they are clean or unclean. If He loves every person on this earth, can we do any less? And that means every single person on this earth is our neighbor.
No, we can't do something for every person on earth, but we can do for those we come in contact with, and as you said, partnering with others we can help those far away with needs.

Last year I got excited about making quilts for charity. I went at it with a vengeance and sort of burned myself out. So, I stopped completely. Lately I've been "nudged" by the Holy Spirit and my own desire to do something for others to get back into it. This time I will try to have a different attitude. One of helping others and pleasing God. Not one of "how many of these can I turn out in a month?" or "I need to make intricate designs and really wow these folks!" This time they will be simpler in design, but just as warm and soft.

In some small way, I hope it will bring others closer to God and also provide a bit of comfort.