“And who is my neighbor?” One of my favorite aspects of this story in Luke’s Gospel (10:25-37) is that Jesus doesn’t answer the question as asked. Instead he answers the question that should have been asked: “How might I act neighborly?” One of our saddest and most consuming quests as humans involves our efforts to declassify someone or some group of people as neighbors.
Chapter 6 of Just Courage, by Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission, deals with Loving God and Our Neighbor. Haugen points out that the question that mattered to the lawyer in the story was, “Who is my neighbor?” while the question that mattered to Jesus was, “Are you loving your neighbor?”
“For those who take the teachings of the Bible seriously, there can be no doubt that the call to seek justice is fundamental to our devotional life as Christians.” (p. 75)
Haugen puts it to us straight: “while our arguments against the impracticality of doing justice are understandable, they are ultimately not very interesting to Jesus.” (p. 79)
In the face of the hopeless picture painted by media coverage of global social ills and injustices, it is not surprising that motivation can be quite difficult. But we are called to remain steadfast in Christian hope, for “hope is not simply wishful thinking; it is a fruit of the Spirit born of the spiritual discipline of remembering.” (p. 80)