Jesus once told a story:
“There was a teenage Latino junkie walking home in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. On the way he was attacked by gang members. They took his phone, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a suburban woman, volunteering at a nearby homeless shelter, was on her way down the same street, but when she saw him she angled across to the other side, nervous about her own safety.
Then a businessman showed up on his way to a meeting on community development for a non-profit organization; he also avoided the injured man because he was running late.
Then a transvestite walking down the street came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave the teen first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his shoulders and took him to the ER, and made him comfortable. To the hospital administrators he paid the bill and said, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’”
Jesus asked, “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Ok, that may be the Crosby Revised Version, but you get the idea.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
“Real friendship (or neighboring for our purposes) happens when we move toward the people we are most tempted to avoid.” Scott Sauls
Or as our friend Rich Stearns says, “Imagine Christians feeding Syrian Muslims while ISIS beheads Christians.”
As you walk through your day, notice who you’re most tempted to turn away from, and consider turning towards instead…
- the person of a different race, religion, or sexual orientation
- profane mom yelling at her kids on the bus,
- the obnoxious businessman who cuts you off in line at Starbucks,
- the intellectually challenged teen,
- the bratty kid in Target
- the homeless person on the corner
When I was teaching kids about meeting strangers, I used to tell them to pay attention to the color of the other person’s eyes as they shook hands. Afterwards I’d ask them, “What color was Mr. ________’s eyes?”
Jesus turned towards people and looked them in the eye.
Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him.
Neighboring Challenge –
- Turn towards a neighbor different from you today. Look them in the eye and see the Imago Dei. Treat them as Jesus would.
- Make a point of complimenting complete strangers. Look them in the eye.
- Smile and say hi to everyone you pass today. Look them in the eye.
- The next time you eat out, be sure to ask your server’s name, look them in the eye, and initiate a conversation with them NOT about the food. Like “Tell me about your tattoo.” or “What do you like best about this city?”
- If you have kids, have them identify someone at school who is different from them or hard to love. Challenge them to talk to the person they identify and come home and tell you what color his or her eyes are.
Pray: Lord, help me to see as You see, to hear as You hear, to love as You love.