What happened to loving thy neighbor?


It was a five-hour layover in the Atlanta Airport. To pass the time, we casually watched the endless stream of travelers hurrying by.

Shoes caught our attention. Most people had black shoes with white souls. We saw but one woman wearing high heals. Also noticed: most people were alone, but there were some twosomes. Less often would be a family unit.

That anonymous crowd also produced some touching vignettes.

• A wheelchair-bound man called out to a stranger who’d dropped his wallet.

• People instinctively deferred to travelers in wheelchairs.

• No one refused to answer the question from another.

• My favorite sight came later when our plane’s captain pushed my companion’s wheelchair up the jet way.

In our anonymous self-protected world, how do Christ’s followers live out his command to love neighbor as self? It’s difficult to feel neighborly to those who cross our paths – and never seen again? Watching travelers reminded me that Jesus’ expectation of us applies even in our world of strangers.

• We’re challenged, because today’s world seems to have lost a sense of community.

• School board members are resigning because of threats against them.

• Some are refusing COVID vaccinations – defying the health needs of others.

• Community agencies find it increasingly difficult to get support (money and/or time) from the community.

Have we lost an awareness that we live in a world of neighbors? (Where’s Mr. Rogers’ “neighborhood” when we need it?) Not only did Jesus advocate for loving one’s neighbor, but throughout his life and ministry, he demonstrated love of even the obscure neighbor.

• When his preaching was interrupted by a paralytic being lowered through the roof, he stopped and offered healing and forgiveness.

• When a woman dared touch his garment in hopes of healing, Jesus stopped, found the woman, and offered the healing she sought.

• When his followers tried to keep blind Bartimaeus away, Christ said, “Let him come to me!”

• When a lawyer asked Jesus who his neighbor was, Jesus told about the Good Samaritan, and then asked, “Who was neighbor to the one who fell among thieves?”

We have opportunities every day to be neighbor/strangers.

• Ignore the other driver offering you a lewd gesture.

• Do random acts of kindness.

• Pay for the order of the car behind you in the fast food drive-thru.

• Ask the principal of your neighborhood school if there’s a child who really needs something special for his birthday.

Perhaps the best way to be the loving neighbor Jesus wants – try becoming the person your dog thinks you are.


By William McCartney

Your Pastor Speaks

Rev. William McCartney is a retired United Methodist minister and a professor emeritus of the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.

No posts to display