Saturday, March 6, 2010

Being a Good Neighbor

“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"What is written in the Law?" [Jesus]replied. "How do you read it?"

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
-Luke 10: 25-28

A psychological study asking the question of “what makes people help someone in distress” was conducted in 1973 by researchers at Princeton University. Princeton Seminary students were given a topic (either post-graduate job opportunities or the Parable of the Good Samaritan) and told to go to another building to give a talk on the subject. Half of the students were given a time constraint. On the way to the building in which they would speak, the students ran across an actor who was pretending to be in need of medical help. Only 40% of the students stopped to give him any kind of assistance.

Other studies following the 1973 Princeton University study have all reached the same conclusion as the original - it is not so much our character but our busyness which causes us to deny help to those around us. We are too busy to be bothered with someone else’s issues when we have so many of our own. We often assume that because other people see the same need that it will be taken care of by someone else. In other words, we let our busyness get in the way of our faithfulness to God.

In Justice in the Burbs, Kester Brewin has an essay that defines faithfulness as “… allowing one’s dreams to be interrupted. Faith is opening yourself to the tiny seed of the divine and being prepared to see through the consequences.”

Being a good neighbor is not easy. But as you will hear time and again, the path of the Christian is not an easy one. We worship a God who suffered and died a terrible, earthly death so that we might have eternal life. What makes us think that when we choose to follow a God who suffers for us, we will not suffer for Him
It is true that doing good deeds does not earn us a place in heaven, but it is also true that being a Christ follower requires taking care of our neighbors – both those next door, and those around the world.

What kind of neighbor are you going to be today?