Love Your Neighbor? Really?

Image result for mark labberton the dangerous act of loving your neighbor

The premise of our new book [The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor by Mark Labberton] is that no matter who is in need, if we perceive the need and we can meet it, we should do so. We should do our dead-level best to help others less fortunate than ourselves.

This is a common message in the Christian faith, but do we heed the words of God?

James 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” This is only one verse that calls us to help particular persons who have suffered. Obviously children who have lost their parents need help and women who have lost their spouses need assistance. James is saying that love needs to be shown to these special people.

Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Sharing what you have is the right thing to do especially if you know of someone who does not have what you have. Hebrews states that doing good is pleasing to God and we must not neglect to do it.

First John 3:17 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” This admonition is even stronger as John states if we don’t help our brother in need, God is not within us.

Matthew 25:35-40 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” This Scripture may be the most famous directive for our faith as the words of Jesus state that if you assist the needy, you are assisting Him.

We could go on and on but you get the point. A “real” Christian is a generous, loving, sharing person who takes his or her resources and helps other people.

This is our calling.

This is what we are supposed to do with our faith.

This is the love we are to show to others; this love is based on fulfilling the needs of those less fortunate.

Labberton has written a book that we sorely need in our time. Some think that Christians help only themselves. Others think that Christians help only other Christians. My reading of my Bible says Christians are supposed to help human beings who are struggling in life. Labberton states “Jesus didn’t see a sick woman, He saw a daughter of God. He did not see an outcast from society, He saw a child of God. He didn’t see a sinner, He saw a person in the image of the Creator.”

How can we see the way Jesus saw; how can we see others with the eyes of Jesus?

Labberton states that seeing “rightly is the beginning of renewal, forgiveness, healing and grace. Seeing rightly is the beginning of how our hearts are changed.”

Our Christian faith is radical in that it calls all of us to love all of mankind. We all know this is hard for there are many in our world who are “unlovable.” Many who have dire needs do not run in our circles; they are members of a lower social strata. We may be uncomfortable associating with them. Many who have dire needs are not of our race; their skin color is different from ours and their reality is very different due to that racial perspective. Many who have dire needs may not have the same political views that we have and God knows that America is a divided nation right now. Can people of differing political viewpoints lay aside that divide in time of need?

Surely we must.

God tells us to forget our differences and help one another.

God tells us that we must aid those who have great need. Go back and read James, Hebrews, 1st John and Matthew above. The message is clear. If the need is there, we have to meet it or God is not in us.

“As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

That is so clear…

So challenging, but so clear.

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