Reflections On The Past Week
I do not often comment on the news and being a recovering news junky I don’t often watch or read much coverage of what is happening in the world around me. I find the news addicting and it only makes me upset therefore I have made a personal choice not to watch or read much of what is happening in the news.
Yet, the events of this past week have me quite, well let’s just say it, quite upset and dare I say it angry. Not only upset but disappointed in my fellow mankind. I may be wrong about the number, but around a dozen pipe bombs were mailed to different notable democratic leaders and at least one news agency. All within the last week.
Then on this past Sabbath, (Saturday) a man entered a Synagogue killing 11, wounding six which included four police officers who responded to the emergency were wounded. All because of mans hatred hated toward fellow human beings.
Then if this wasn’t enough just yesterday in a small town near Charlette NC a student killed another student over what authorities say is a case of revenge over bullying.
It seems our world has gone mad. I long for the day when Jesus will return and all this will be laid to rest, then never again this will kind of behavior be found here on planet earth.
Jesus was talking to His disciples and a large group of people upon a grassy mountain. Here Jesus spoke these words: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’” (Matthew 5:43).
This certainly appears to be the case, we claim to love our neighbor, till I started looking around the neighborhood where my wife and I live. Outside of the neighbor and his family one house down and across the street, we hardly know the names of our neighbors. We all keep to ourselves, and so, how is it I can love my neighbors if I truly do not know who they are. If I am not accepting of them and there way of life.
So, this got me to thinking about this text, and who is my neighbor.
When Jesus spoke these words, he was referring back to the text in Leviticus 19:18 where it tells us to “You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”
Paul in Romans 13:8 builds upon what is said by Jesus and also echoes these same words from Leviticus 19:18 when he says, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Paul is saying that the Christian is to pay all he owes, but there is one debt he can never fully meet, namely, the debt of love to his fellow men. Mutual love is an infinite obligation. It is a debt that one should ever be seeking to discharge but that will never be fully paid so long as there remains an opportunity for doing good to one’s fellow men (and women).
Literally, “loves another.” Therefore the translation and the Revised Standard Version of the Bible states it, “his neighbor.”
He who loves his fellow men (and women) has carried out the intent and purpose of the law. All the commandments of God are based upon the one principle of love (Matthew 22:34-40 and confer Roman 13:9). Therefore, His law cannot be perfectly obeyed by mere outward conformity to the letter. True obedience is a matter of the heart and of the spirit (confer Romans 2:28, 29). Not external compliance but heartfelt love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10). This fundamental truth the Jews had been slow to believe and practice, despite the clear teachings of Moses on the subject which we find in both the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Leviticus 19:18, 34; Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12).
Jesus sough to reveal once again the true purpose of His Father’s commandments. He taught that all the commands are summed up in love and that the distinguishing mark of an obedient disciple is love for all mankind (John 13:34, 35).
Jesus taught and Christians today should follow Christ words as found in Matthew 5:44-48; “But I say to you, ‘love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and send rain on the just and the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 and if you greet your brethren only what do you do more than others? Do not even tax collectors do so? 48 therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
But until we desire to keep the law as outlined in Matthew 5:3-11, then we will continue seeing events as have taken place in the last week happen with increasing regularity.
All to often we have taken our neighbor to be our coworker or neighbor in the apartment building or street upon which we live. But Moses, Jesus and Paul are attempting to tell us, that our neighbor is everyone in the world. With the increase of technology and social media, isn’t this the truth, everyone is my neighbor and therefore whether they are a friend or an enemy, Christ has asked us to love them and bless them and do good to those that hate us and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.
Loving one’s neighbor shouldn’t be about self interest it should be about what is best for my neighbor even if it puts myself in an uncomfortable position.
After all, is this not what Jesus did for us. He loved us so much that he put himself in an uncomfortable position of dying on the cross for the remission of our sins. Therefore since Christ has shown us such unselfish love, and he is our example, then should I not show that same unselfish love to my neighbors, which is everyone else in the world.
Yes, Yes we should.