A smart fellow once came up to Jesus and asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus gave his pretty typical response of “What do you reckon?” and the man said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.”
“Great answer!” said Jesus. But the guy wasn't finished. “Well who is my neighbour then?” And so Jesus whipped out a story.
One day a Jewish guy was walking down the road when he was attacked by bandits. They robbed him and left him beaten and bruised and half-naked by the side of the road.
Love doesn't exist because I feel love for others; love is there when I act loving towards other people. The challenges this month are not about trying to change our attitude towards others - trying to feel differently towards the people we come across. If this is what we're trying to do than we're really focusing on ourselves still. Love is always unselfish, focused on others, and you can see this clearly in the way Jesus lived.
So that's what love is about. But what about the "who" question? Who is my neighbour? Whenever we hear the command to love our neighbour, it seems this is always the question that pops into our heads. But it's the wrong question. Jesus blows it apart with his little story, and the question at the end became "Which one of these - the priest, the temple helper, or the Samaritan - acted like a neighbour?" The answer is obviously the Samaritan. And Jesus says "Go and do the same."
In other words, the important question for us is How can I be a neighbourly person? It's all about living for others instead just for ourselves. This month, be a neighbour to the people around you, give to them, care for them, and love them as much as you love yourself. This month's challenges are about shifting the focus off ourselves and on to other people - whoever it is - whether it's family,
friends, co-workers or classmates, or someone by the side of the road who desperately needs some bandages and a ride to the nearest motel.