Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What does loving your neighbor really mean?

I followed my friend the weary pilgrim to a blog called Hugh’s Views.

Here are Hugh’s notes from a presentation he made at Big Tent Christianity. To whet your appetite, here are a few excerpts, but you definitely need to read the whole thing for the full benefit.

According to Jesus, loving your neighbor is half of the greatest commandment. Pretty much everyone agrees that, if taken seriously, it’s a radical idea that could change the world. And yet it seems nearly impossible for American Christians, liberal or conservative, to agree on what it looks like.

Loving your neighbor presupposes a relationship. It means knowing your neighbor is going through a divorce, that the lady who cleans your office has a mother that is dying, that the man at the end of the street holding a cardboard sign has been outside for three years now, and his name is Brian. In the story we call the Good Samaritan, it meant getting in the ditch to bind the man’s wounds yourself.

When the average person in the pews can tell you the names of all the Judges on American Idol, or can name all the Glee cast members, but does not know a soul that makes 1/4th their income, I think it is fair to say we have lost our sense of mission as co-creators of the Kingdom of God.

Here in Wake County, the official statistics say there are approximately 1200 homeless people. And many hundreds of Christian congregations. You cannot tell me that out of the many thousands of Christian homes represented by those churches, there are not 1200 empty beds somewhere. Of course there are. But we save those beds for people we actually know.

Jesus expects us to storm down those gates [Matthew 16:18] and invade Hell itself. Jesus is telling us to go to Hell to be with the drug addict and the alcoholic. Go to Hell to be with the victims of abuse, and with the abusers. Go to hell and liberate the adulterer, the homeless man, the pornographer. In hell is where we will find the single mother and the embezzler, the pimps and the pimped, the hungry, the broken, the forgotten. We, you and I together, should be wading into hell itself and proclaiming that there is a new way to live and a new way to love, and that new way is bringing about the justice of God.

Read his full notes here. Thanks to the weary pilgrim, and especially to Hugh for a pretty straight-forward understanding of a pretty obvious principle—that most of us totally ignore.

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