God So Loved the World! Maybe We Should Too…

And wondering out loud, just who is my neighbor?

I have been blogging quite a bit in recent weeks about love, in part because I am going to preach on love as part of our Christmas series.

This post is also stimulated by all the work in the last month in connecting with global and local missional people, so we could have a wonderful Christmas Eve Offering collage to present to you for your generosity.

Here is my reflection on God’s (and the people of God’s) wide and deep love for the world.

God so loved the world.
God took responsibility for the world.
Because that is what love does.
Love takes responsibility about what is loved.
Love acts in loving ways.
It is what love does.

God so loved the world.
That is a starting point answer to a BIG question:
Who is my neighbor?
Cain said, “Certainly not my brother Abel.”
Jonah said, “Certainly not those pagan Ninevites.
The Pharisees said, “Certainly not anyone who is not in our exclusive club.”
The Messiah Jesus said, “Truly, EVERYONE is my neighbor.”

And he used the parable of the Good Samaritan to drive his point home. For Jesus, everyone was his neighbor — children, the elderly, tax collectors, prostitutes, Gentiles, military leaders, Samaritans, women and men, Essenes, Sadducees, Zealots, and even a few Pharisees who let him be a neighbor. Also, the people who accused him. And those who tried and condemned him. And the soldiers who crucified him. They were all his neighbor. He came to this world for them all. He died for them all. He asked his Father in heaven to forgive them all.

Every race. Every ethnicity. Every political persuasion. Every socio-economic group. Every religious adherent. Every age. Each gender. Jesus loved everyone equally with a fierce, tender love to his dying breath. And his rising-again-from-the-dead breath as well.

Because that is what love does.

So, who is your neighbor? How do you answer that as an American? How do you answer that as a Christian? How do you answer that as a Christian who lives in the United States?

I know how I should answer it, how I want to answer it, and how I am slowly getting better at answering it.

Tomorrow I have a long quote from a rabbi about being a global neighbor that I think will blow you away.

By God’s grace, loving all my neighbors,
Pastor Brian


Brian Rice