Lyrics to Mr. (Fred) Rogers’s Neighborhood song:
It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
We live next door to an elderly widow who has re-taught us how to be a neighbor.
She welcomed us to the neighborhood with her home-baked cake. And, since that time, we’ve exchanged goodies, usually initiated by her; never return an empty plate has been our motto.
Just the other day, my wife called her to see if we could borrow a cupcake pan. It thrilled her! She was so happy to be called on for help. That got me thinking.
Being a Christian regularly puts me at odds with my nature and forces me to surrender my will. Countless times, that’s not been easy for me, seeing that I’m a hard-headed guy.
As an introvert, meeting and talking to people is uncomfortable for me; it goes against my nature. So, having a true neighbor started me thinking about how to meet other neighbors. Even so, my inner man was thinking about how to avoid them.
This internal battle led me to Luke 10:29, “…who is my neighbor?”, which led me to consider how to be a Christian and still escape having to meet my neighbors.
There were other rabbit trails I went down, but those aren’t relevant to this post. I was stuck. Being a Christian requires me not just to love people but to go and be among them so that they can smell me; “to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life...” (2 Corinthians 2:16 ESV)
In my spiritual wrestling match, I finally landed on the good Samaritan. When Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36 NIV), The implied truth was that being a neighbor carried responsibilities. When I considered that I knew I was in trouble.
My neighbors aren’t just the folks that live within 100 feet of me. I can’t legalize, parse or categorize my way out of it; everyone is my neighbor and, as a neighbor, I have responsibilities to them – all of them!
The sick, broken, suffering, lost, clean and tidy, or rough and ragged, close at hand or far away, God holds me accountable whether I like it or not. Acknowledging and putting God’s love into action for my neighbors are the least of my responsibilities as one who carries the Name of Christ. It’s time for me to die, again.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash