Love your neighbor as yourself.
Given originally as the second greatest command, there ought to be some weight in that origination. I believe there was some reasoning for why we were told many years ago to love each other so fiercely…and specifically to love our neighbors.
There is an age old question we often sweep under the rug. We take it at face-value. We use it for our own comfort. Just who exactly is my neighbor? Am I commanded to love only the person I share my driveways and sidewalks with? Should I share a simple wave as I walk to gather the day’s bills and fliers from the mailbox and wander back into my quiet abode? Do I make meals for those suffering only in the circumference of my comfort zone and quietly watch the world burn down around me?
Could my neighbors be outside my line of vision? Perhaps they reside outside the lines that resemble the city limits. Maybe my neighbors live in homes like mine… or perhaps look differently built not with tidy brick and vinyl siding, but rather stucco and dirt floors. Instead of sectioned, decorative rooms they share bedrooms and eating utensils. Do my neighbors resemble only my face in the mirror?
Do my neighbors live within my walls? What about those nearest to me inside the same four structures of this home. A prominent author once pointed out that perhaps we ought to be loving our own children as our neighbors. After all, they are the humans closest to me; o how often it is my family that receives the worst of my intentions. Am I loving my littlest neighbor with the best of my heart and soul and attitudes? The best that I have to offer the world…it ought to begin somewhere… right?
Some basic studies prove that “neighbor” can in-fact be translated to “alien.” This derivation depicts that at some point, we have all been strangers in our own home lands. We have all been wanderers and gypsies searching for some divine purpose to drive our lives. We each need a reason to stand for what we believe with the hope that our blip-of-time here on this earth will make a mark for some greater good.
Neighbor holds such great context and conviction in my mind. I must ask myself. Do I love my neighbors both around my block and around the world without preconceived notions of who they are? Do I choose who to love well and who to discard? Do my values and beliefs align with only those with whom I choose to love? These are the moments I must reset my feelings and focus on the facts. I must love my neighbor, no matter their affiliation, no matter their skin color, no matter their socioeconomic status or church membership. Love my neighbor.
And… if I lay down my combative arms and make the choice to love, How exactly do I love? Of many things I am taught that…Love is the constant choice to trust, to protect, to be patient and kind. Love will find joy in the Truth and not seek to serve only itself. Love will not be proud and easy to anger, and it will not boast. I will check my love against my own free-will and be reminded that I am unconditionally loved…at my best and at my worst.
Love does not mean allowing our enemies to overcome our good intentions, but maybe, just maybe, love can take us one step further and teach us just how to love our enemies as much as we love the person staring back at us in the mirror.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
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