Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:18

Last Monday night at our Neighborhood Watch meeting, something happened that had the whole room in shock. A woman stood up in front of a room full of her neighbors and introduced herself as being new to the neighborhood. She told us a little about her family and their decision to move to our community, and that she had received a letter from one of her neighbors she wanted to share with us. I had hoped that it was going to be a nice letter of welcome that warmed her heart, but by this point in my life I know better.

What followed was an anonymous letter, mailed with no return address, from a neighbor of hers who essentially told her that she and her family were being watched by her neighbors. The letter was full of assumption, conjecture, prejudice and hatred. Any perceived misunderstandings could have been cleared up with a simple conversation, but the anonymous letter writer didn’t even offer that opportunity. And this pastors heart broke for this neighbor, for her family, and for our community.

Jesus was big on the whole “love your neighbor as yourself” thing. The important part to focus on is the “as yourself” part. We are great at thinking the best about ourselves. We assume that our motives and intentions are pure and honest. We always paint ourselves in the best light possible. If we are loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, then we have to do that for our neighbors as well:  Assume that their intensions are pure and honest. Paint them in the best light possible. Assume that what is going on, whatever it is, is not evil or malicious. Have a conversation with them about any issues, just like you would want them to have with you.

It is a rarity to assume the worst in yourself. It should, therefore, be a rarity for us to assume the worst in others. We tend to regard ourselves as the hero in the story. So then, let’s try to consider our neighbors the same way. LOVE as you love yourself. LOVE as Jesus loves.

Love changes everything,

Pastor Mike

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