Love your Neighbor as Yourself – Part 2
It is easy to spot if we show favoritism towards certain people, and more than likely we do, because the environments we grow up in usually program our brains to hold prejudgements in regard to many aspects of life including people. Ask yourself simple questions such as: Which country has the most talented people? Which group of people are our friends and which are our enemies? Which group of people are more likely to believe in Jesus Christ? Which group of people have more potential to follow God? If your answers are anything other than â€œno oneâ€, then more than likely you do show favoritism.
I know this first hand because growing up as a Christian in a Muslim country meant that I was an outsider. I was considered â€œdirtyâ€ (unclean), and an â€œinfidelâ€ (in Arabic the word is: Kafir), and sometimes simply called â€œChristianâ€ just because I am Christian. In Canada things are not much different. Year after year I had a teacher in High School tell me â€œHappy Eidâ€ (â€œEidâ€ means â€œHolidaysâ€ in Arabic) whenever a Muslim holiday happened, or would ask if I was fasting in Ramadan (Ramadan is the fasting month in Islam), and I would tell him that I was a Christian. And yet, year after year he asked me the same question! On the day of September 11, 2001 a Muslim classmate from a European country called me a terrorist because I am an Iraqi! I even got asked by Christians how I could be a Christian and be from Iraq! One time I had no other answer but, â€œThe grace of God knows no geographical boundaries.â€
Christians are guilty (greatly guilty) of prejudging people. A lot of our ideas about God and who He really is come from pastors. We hear a pastor who uses a lot of catchy phrases and we think he is a man of God without stopping for a minute to ask, â€œDoes this teaching match the Word of God? Is this something the Holy Spirit inspired him to say?â€
I remember reading an articleÂ by a Christian lady that said something to the like of, â€œGod helps those who help the nation of Israel.â€ I wondered how can a Christian support a statement like this as Biblical. The Bible says in Acts 10:34-35:
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. Acts 10:34-35
Yet somehow we labelled in our minds who will accept the God of the Bible and fear Him and who will not. Our evangelism and where we send our money certainly reflects that mindset.
But sometimes it takes us to walk in someone shoes to understand them. When I read the stories about the horrors of the Holocaust I wondered why the Jews hated the David star that they had to wear to mark them as Jews. I asked myself, â€œWhatâ€™s bad about being a Jew? Why did it bother them to be known publicly as Jews?â€ I didnâ€™t understand why it bothered them until I had memory flash about how much it bothered me to be called â€œChristianâ€ in Iraq. The reason it bothered me was not because I was ashamed of being a Christian but because the word Christian was used to belittle me, to mark me out, to scoff at meâ€”as if I had no name. I was simply considered a â€œChristianâ€ like any other Christian. I was no more an individual but more like a mass produced human product.
I think Schindler understood very well what it meant to love oneâ€™s neighbor and more importantly who is oneâ€™s neighbor. As our Lord Jesus Christ explained to us in the parable below: according to God we determine who our neighbor is. Who are our neighbors?
The Parable of the Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’, and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Do you hold prejudice against anyone today for any reason at all? How does it make you feel when someone treats you less than, because of your nationality or skin color? Pray today that God will give us the heart of the Good Samaritan so that we may learn to treat our neighbor as we would treat ourselves.