Who Are Our Neighbors?

2016 was a tumultuous year for many people in this country. We saw the polarization of opinions divide, and in many cases shred our social fabrics in two. We saw friends become frenemies, families standing true to their side of the “truth,” and the normalization of outrageous behavior. All in all, 2016 was rough. I know that a lot of people, myself included are happy to see that year pass.

As we walk into 2017, we have a choice to continue the divisive nature of 2016, or to change course. The anger, hatred, and pain can be transformed into love, compassion, and forgiveness in the year to come.

As a community of followers of Christ, in 2017 we must rise to the calling of his way. When Christ calls us to love, let us love with No Reservations. When Christ calls us to give, let us give with unending gratitude, and when Christ calls us to be righteous, let us become fully engulfed with justice and peace towards our neighbors.
And you might ask, who is your neighbor?

Well here is what Christ has to say in Luke 10: 29-35:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and
bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The world calls us to be like the Priest and Levite. It says to ignore the people in our lives that are in need of compassion, in need of love and in need of forgiveness. The world calls us to choose a camp and stick to it, to believe that what we claim as truth is the universal truth for all people.

However, to be a follower of Christ is to be constantly transformed into moving hands and feet of love.

The challenge will be to look all around us in person and in our social media friend list. When we see someone who we assume stands for something that is in complete opposition to who we are, strike a meaningful and intentional conversation with that person. I am sure that once the layer of presumed difference gets peeled off, we will find common ground with one another. In doing so, we will not only see the humanity in each of us but see the heart of the divine in all us.

With this calling my friends, let us become a community that truly mirrors the Kingdom of God here on Earth in 2017.

May it be so!
Harold Sloan-Marrero
Director of Media Ministry and Outreach