The Universal Neighborhood

In today’s spiritual prayer work, which is what I call my time with God in prayer, worship and readings, I came across the following scripture: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11 which began the message in the daily devotional Our Daily Bread.  The day’s message was titled: A Good Neighbor. 

Love thy neighbor as you love yourself.  This is the universal second commandment given to us by God.  Obviously, when we read or hear these words we automatically think about those neighbors that live in our city, our own town.  Those individuals we run across in the course of our daily lives.  People we work with, do business with, or know from church, school, the gym, wherever.  We know these faces so we find ourselves forming acquaintanceship or friendships with these very nice folks because we know them.  They are part of our daily lives.

But the intent of these words goes way beyond those individuals we deem worthy of a smile or an occasional word.  The intent of these words is to exemplify that we must show respect and kindness to all we encounter, especially those we do not know.  Those that are strangers to us.

In a way our world is like a universal neighborhood.  We, as Americans, live in the middle of the block.  In our neighborhood Canada is the house to our left, Mexico the house to our right.  Asia is just around the corner, Europe at the end of the street.  South America is a few houses down from us.  Africa right around the corner.  If you can visualize the world as one big neighborhood block, then you can grasp the true meaning of these words.  Everyone is our neighbor.  Everyone is worthy of our love.  Everyone is our responsibility to assist when needs arise. 

Blessed are those neighbors that run to help others when natural disaster strikes.  The folks that assisted those that lost everything because of the tornadoes that devastated our Midwestern and Southern neighbors.  Those that supported the flood water victims throughout the country.  Those that helped neighbors when wildfires ran rampant in the West.  Blessed are those that show mercy by willing to help these unknown neighbors in their time of need. 

Our humanity shows up in the way we treat those in need.  Our humanity shows up in the way we treat each other, stranger or not, on a daily basis.  Our humanity also shows up when we treat our family members with compassion and understanding.  Sometimes we pat ourselves on our back when we show humanitarian efforts toward strangers, when at home we do not give the same level of compassion to our own parents, children, siblings, spouse or significant others.  Everyone is worthy of our respect and love.  It is the greatest challenge our God puts before us.  The daily devotional ends with the following words which I hope will touch your heart as it did mine:

Our love for Christ is only as real as our love for our neighbor.

If you would like to have the devotional “Our Daily Bread” sent to you at no cost, please write to:  RBC Ministries, P.O. Box 270; Grand Rapids, MI 49501-0270.  Request their free little devotional.

One Response to “The Universal Neighborhood”

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