I've been thinking about what it means to love our neighbors (not the literal or typical definition but the one given by Jesus and in the OT--anyone I come into contact with who lacks resources, the poor, the immigrant, etc.). And as I thought through what I already do and what I could do to be more loving, my mind wondered down the path of trying to figure out what to do about this one person in my life who I've been trying to love well for the last 8 months despite how infuriating and exhausting he can be. Unlike many, he has access to resources and opportunities that he doesn't avail himself of, making poor choices and not using what he has wisely. Am I wasting time on him that could be better spent helping someone who wants to help himself more?
As I thought, I realized that I was sort of like the lawyer (imagine that) in Luke 10:25-37 in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. I'm more interested in defining and limiting the definition of "neighbor" than just loving and taking action. Over the years, I've seen this a lot in my middle class circles--both Christian and otherwise. We'll talk about helping a group/person and somehow get lost in reasons not to ("well they aren't really helping themselves" or "maybe this isn't the best way to do it" or "I probably shouldn't take anything else on right now"). No doubt, a lack of love is often easy to justify.
And it's easy for me to think I get it all so wrong (living in my loft, driving my SUV, typing on my laptop and listening to my ipod and basically living a life of incredible physical comfort and luxury) that I just give up and push all of the poverty and injustice of this world out of my mind. Or I conclude that I just need to move to a third world country (as if my neighbors here don't need love too). In reality I just need to do. I need to write a letter to Pedro in Peru instead of running that last mile. I need to love my infuriating friend well even if he is making destructive decisions. I need to write that check instead of constantly counting the cost (which I don't do so much when it's something I want). I need to have that uncomfortable conversation. I need to talk to the homeless person rather than look away. And I need to humbly rely on God because I know I may be getting it all wrong, but surely it pleases Him that I'm trying no matter how feeble my attempts are. Here are some of the questions I'm asking myself:
"Am I more aware of what I don't have (or want) or of what others need?"
"Am I offering things that don't cost me anything?"
Do I want to give myself away? Do I really believe that I have to lose my life to find it?
p.s. I'm grateful for this video. I didn't like it until 4:30 (thought it was sort of gay; I'm not the interpretative dance kind), but then it totally affected me. Now I'm a fan :)