Who is my neighbour?

A teacher of the law went up to Jesus and said, “If I love God with my whole heart and my neighbour as myself, would I get to heaven”?

Jesus said to him, “You definitely would.”

Then the teacher asked a further question, just to get the picture right in his mind.  “Ok then, who is my neighbour”?

It was then that Jesus related the story of the Good Samaritan of which we are all aware.  It is an interesting story and one that is happening constantly in our world today.

Jesus didn’t say the man from Samaria was a Christian or Jew or Baptist or Catholic.  No!  He was just a person from Samaria.  The same as if he was from Melbourne or Bribie Island.

But this Samaritan man saw there was someone in need and went across the road to help and he even paid for the unfortunate victim to be looked after.  Other passers bye just looked and kept on going.  They were only interested in themselves and what was happening in their own lives.  They had no time to go helping a bashed up bloke lying in the gutter.

This act of kindness by the Samaritan man touched the victim and his life just as Jesus would touch people and change their lives.

Do you remember Bartimaeus, the blind man who was sitting in the gutter when he heard Jesus was passing, so he called out, “Jesus, have pity on me”.  Jesus heard his cry, touched him and changed his life.

Then there was the man with the skin disease who said to Jesus, “Sir, if you want to, you can make me better”.  What happened then?  Jesus reached out and touched him and changed his life.

Jesus never discriminated about who he helped.  He saw a need.  He did what was needed.  As Christians I believe that is also how we must react.

It is easy for us to relate to our family and friends within our own church and within environments in which we feel comfortable.  But what happens when we step outside our back fence?

What happens when we are in the same situation as the Good Samaritan?  Do we walk away because we don’t want to get involved?  Are we frightened to be seen to be meddling in someone else’s business?  Do we adhere to the Aussie adage of not discussing religion in case it might offend someone?

Are we more intent on accumulating worldly goods and making money than recognizing and helping those who Jesus would classify as ‘our neighbours’?

If we are a baptized Christian then we have a responsibility to evangelize.  “Take my word to all nations” was the command of Jesus Himself.  Mention of the word evangelize to many Christians and it immediately conjures up visions of smartly dressed American TV hosts who have the ability to promote the Gospel to vast world-wide audiences.  It is not something that many of us could even contemplate doing.

However, we should look at the word response-ability and consider how each of us can use our God-given ability or gifts to respond to what God is asking us to do in the life He has given us.  Whatever we do, if we are doing something good for somebody else, we are in reality being Jesus to that person.  We are allowing Jesus to touch that person.  And we know the touch of Jesus can be a life changing experience.

How fortunate we are to have been planted here in Australia.  Sure, we have our problems.  We have floods and droughts and unemployment, but we also have organizations that care for us in our need.  The Government pays us unemployment and pension benefits, child-care support and offers hospital and health care.

In countries on the other side of our back fence, life is not nearly as comfortable.  Today our world seems to be getting smaller because our communications systems allow us to be more aware of what is happening throughout the world.  In just a few hours we can fly to the other side of the globe.  We can project ourselves via the internet instantaneously.  We can pick up a mobile phone and be connected to any country in the world.

So, we are now more aware of the needs of others.  In reality, the road the Samaritian crossed to help the unfortunate victim has now widened to include, not just our own neighbourhood, but the world.

In Uganda for instance, 50% of the population is under the age of 15 and 78% is under the age of 35.  Also, there are nearly 2 million orphan children and no one gets any government handouts.

Humanitarian Projects International Inc. is an organization similar to many others throughout the world that organizes volunteer support for vulnerable children and adults in different parts of the world.  While the organisation is non-denominational, just like the Good Samaritan, their members see the seriousness of the on-going need and perhaps in some cases, without even knowing it they accept the call from Jesus to help our neighbour. 

By becoming a member of an organisation like H.P.I. then, when we reach out and touch those we help, we will be touching them for everyone who has helped us to do what Jesus wants of us.  It is a wonderful way to fulfill the command to love our neighbour.

Jesus said when we do these things for the least of His people, we are doing it for Him.  I can only encourage everyone to continue to be like the good Samaritan and go out of our way to help others in need. 

I’m Peter Mack and that’s how I feel.

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