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Loving all of our neighbors

 


Are there people in your life you think the world of? Someone you would even give the coat of your back to if he needed it? On the other hand, is there a co-worker who tests your limits? Someone you have a difficult time relating to in social situations?

Throughout our lifetime some people will come and go, while others will become important. We tend to invest in relationships with people we like or have things in common. Which makes sense — that many of us having a choice would surround ourselves with people we like and can be our true self.

The truth is, it’s easier to love and get along with those we like. But, what about those whom we are less fond off? Those who prefer another political party, or hold different values than you?

The Bible offers this perspective, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27).”

Easier said than done, right? Just a few verses later, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them (Luke 6:32).”

Life in the different communities each of us move can be challenging at times—whether it is with family, with co-workers, with our faith communities, in our social and civic involvement or in any other circle. This passage of Scripture addresses the reality that each person has a choice of loving her neighbor and enemy, to use the same words of the passage.

Scripture again and again encourages readers to think outside the obvious possibilities. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).”

A friend once told me the reason she financially supports the college education of a student in Nigeria she’s never met is because, she will have a better chance to accomplish her dream of becoming a nurse and serving her community.

My friend wished to participate in this process. Someone locally volunteers as mentor of youth in difficult situations, because his experience was similar as a youth. If this young troubled person can receive love support from a caring adult, he might begin letting his guard down and begin trusting again.

When we choose to expand our circle to include others, we may discover new relationships than we wouldn’t otherwise have encountered. We might discover the presence of the Divine in the other.

When we begin the difficult work of loving our neighbors, and those we dislike, our community and our world may become a brighter place.

 

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