Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
- TITLE: Who is My Neighbor?
By Marilyn Klunder
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“But Dad, you don’t even know this man. You could be putting your home and yourself in danger again,” I anxiously countered.
“I read the Bible everyday and it says we should help people in need; even open our homes to strangers,” he spoke again, “I just want to do what’s right.”
I don’t know how many times I have heard my father speak those words over the last fifteen years. Each time I cringe at his decision to let strangers into his home and several times I have even fought with him because of it.
In the Bible, an expert in the law was testing Jesus with questions. First he asked about how to inherit eternal life, then he asked, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29 NIV) Jesus proceeded to tell the parable of The Good Samaritan. At the end of the parable, Jesus in turn asks the expert a question, “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 expert replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him to go and do likewise. (Luke 10:37 NIV) Jesus didn’t identify his neighbor, but told him how to be one; by showing mercy.
In The Good Samaritan, the one that was beaten and robbed was a Jew. He was passed up by a priest, and by a Levite. The one that stopped to care for him was a Samaritan. The Samaritans and Jews were openly hostile to each other and yet this Samaritan showed mercy by patching up the beaten Jew and taking him to an inn. He not only paid for his stay but promised the innkeeper he would reimburse him for any extra expense. This indeed shows great compassion and mercy for one’s enemy and being a neighbor, but he didn’t take the animosity into his home.
In old classic movies you get a sense of how people survived simply because of mercy shown by neighbors. One example would be the classic movie The Egg and I with Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert. In this movie, a city couple quit their jobs and buys a broken down old farm with a dream to start a chicken farm. After enduring much hard work to fix up their farm the couple loses it to a fire started by a neighbor’s still. They lost everything. As they look across their devastated farm they begin to see cars, trucks, and tractors approaching their farm. In these cars, trucks, and tractors were neighbors bringing what they could spare from their own farms to help the couple start over again. They were shocked and humbled to receive such mercy from their neighbors.
If this is true, if this is how we are suppose to be neighbors then why do I struggle when my dad offers to open his house to strangers? I guess because of what the strangers bring in to his home. These strangers most often bring their sinful lifestyles with them such as drug addiction, alcoholism, and incestuous or improper relationships. My dad’s “help” doesn’t change their lives but only provides a place for them to continue in these lifestyles.
Time after time I have also witnessed the effects of opening his home to strangers and their lifestyles. I have watched the stress, to the point of a heart attack, the financial strain, to the point of almost losing his home, and the danger, to the point of him fleeing his home.
I must confess, I am very protective of my home. It is my sanctuary from life. It offers me peace, comfort and serenity, and I admit I am very careful not to upset its tranquil ambiance. Over the years I have opened my home to mission groups, friends and family members who have needed help for a period of time, but never have gone so far to open it to strangers and their sinful lifestyles. Am I guilty of being merciless? Because of my dad it is something that weighs heavily upon my heart.
Lord, who is my neighbor? With whom should I show mercy to? These questions I have asked over and over again. Please Lord, I rely on you to help me understand.
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