“Love Your Neighbor” (Retaking the Village Green 3/17/20)

“Look out for your neighbors. What a novel concept?”

With everyone so consumed by this pandemic called Covid-19, while serious, it has been good to see some trying to keep their sense of humor. These have been the comedic conspiracy theories that have been proposed which have to make you chuckle when life seems overwhelming.

  • “Plot by daycares for all the newborns that will occur in 9 months after several weeks of mandated home quarantine.”
  • “Plot by teachers so that in 6 years when all the newborns (see daycares) reach the age of 6, we have to raise taxes to build bigger school and hire more teachers.”
  • “Plot by homeschoolers to show everyone what they go through every day.”
  • My favorite- “Plot by our pets so we stay home with them more.”

These are not to make light of the serious times we are in now, but many need a way to work through the anxiety they are facing.

Many times, as I have been following news stories, stories of people helping people have been highlighted as “points of light” in hard times. “Thinking of the common good.” “Watching out for the vulnerable.” “Caring for those in need,” have been themes that have been highlighted and heralded. People have been called upon to marshal the best of themselves for the best of others. For followers of Jesus, these are best summed up in Jesus own statement 2,000 years ago, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Followers of Jesus share something that most do not, a common moral imperative given to us by Jesus and empowered by God himself. The idea of caring for another more than ourselves, watching out for another’s best interest is written into our spiritual DNA. The Apostle Paul wrote, “In humility value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others.” I thought of this verse as I watched the lines in our stores. These moral imperatives fueled by devotion to Jesus and empowered by God changed the shape of the world.

Aristides, a philosopher of the 2nd century, wrote describing the early church, “they care not only for themselves but for the needs of others. If they see someone with a need, they will fast two or three days to provide for that need and provide with what they have.” Julian the Apostate who ruled the Roman Empire in the 3rd century tried to counter the growing Christian threat by starting his own pagan religion to duplicate the Christians actions, except do so void of their God. It failed. When he questioned his advisers he was told, “our people do not share the same moral imperative they seem share because of their allegiance to their God.”

The early church grew, not because it sequestered itself in its buildings, taking care of only itself, hoarding whatever they used for TP, but by being actively engaged in their communities helping those in need with what they had. I am not advocating for a cavalier attitude towards this time we are in. We need to be wise, careful and taking precautions that protect us and others around us. But we also remember that during this time there are people we can help and should help if we truly believe Jesus’ words, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Also remembering that love is fueled by loving God first and remembering God, out of love, reached into brokenness to bring hope and healing through Jesus.
This is a where the Church of Jesus can shine. To do so prayerfully, carefully, and modeling to our neighbors and friends in practical ways what we profess we believe.

Also, remember to thank the people who are serving us during these days. The store stockers, health care workers, first responders, teachers and others who are doing their best so our lives can go on.

This will pass. We will learn the best and worst about ourselves and others during these days. Let’s make sure people learn the best about us as we serve together in Christ’s name.

I have to run. My dog is looking at me funny, and I don’t want to upset him again.

Pastor Kevin

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