There’s an art to being a good neighbor. I’m not talking about forking over a cup of sugar, or collecting newspapers when they’re on vacation. I’m talking about loving people who are rooted in communities, and not always the pretty ones.
The Mr. Rogers television series introduction sings, “Would you be mine, could you be mine, won’t you be my neighbor?” Every week, Mr. Rogers would invite an audience into his home to share life for a few brief moments. He loved them and reinforced the message that people are special and have worth. It didn’t matter your background or status. If you wanted to visit inside his home, you were welcome. But how good are our churches at being “neighborly” today?
To be a good neighbor, we have to ask a few questions first. What are the needs of my community? Where is there pain and hurt? How can I use my giftings and resources to better the environment around me? Where would Jesus be spending most of his time in my town?
Jesus asks an expert in religious law to identify which of the three was a neighbor to the man who was attacked and in need. Was it the Priest (who completely ignores the situation), the Temple Assistant (notices, but does nothing to help the man’s condition), or the Samaritan? Of course, it’s the Samaritan who noticed a person in need and did something about it. Not only did the Samaritan help with the immediate physical needs, but cared enough to tell the inn keeper he’d be back to check on the bill.
The wounded Jewish man, beat up and left for dead on the side of the road, quietly asked the question of the men who passed by, “would you be, could you be, won’t you be my neighbor?”
I want my church to be a reflection of the needs of the community around me. I desire for Jesus to reach the hardest places where people often turn a blind eye because it interrupts their perception of a “beautiful neighborhood.” It starts with asking Jesus to open your eyes to how you can be a neighbor to the literal neighbors in your community.