I’ve been thinking and learning a lot about what it really means to love my neighbor. One of my favorite quotes on the subject comes from one of my favorite artists:
It’s pretty easy to get in the routine of loving people that think, look, and act like you. Why do you think people make jokes about not talking about religion or politics? Because it’s hard for us to stay loving when we disagree, think differently, or live differently than someone. Think about all the political conversations you see on social media. How often do you see people disagreeing while still treating their opponents like they are made in the image of God and dearly loved by their Creator? You don’t see it often, that’s for sure.
“Jesus calls us to a standard of neighborly love that is shocking. It goes from ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ to ‘love your neighbor as I have loved you.” -Christina Edmondson
In John 13:34 Jesus says. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Think about the implications of that statement. Jesus loved us so much that he laid down his life and he is saying we are to do the same for one another. He doesn’t specify a group we are supposed to love such as, “you must love your friends or family.” He says, “love one another”–this includes ALL people and makes the call to love extreme and shocking. We are to love people, all people, so much that we are willing to give up our lives for them. Think about the person or type of people that infuriate you the most, ones that are the hardest for you to extend grace and love to. Jesus is saying those people you are to love so much that you would give your life for them.
The point is that it is HARD to actually live out loving your neighbor. Loving your neighbor is not just knowing their name and being polite when you see them in passing. To actually love others requires lots of sacrifice. It requires humility and selflessness. Most married people know that loving your spouse well requires hard work, and this is with loving someone that you liked enough to say “til death do us part.” Now imagine loving someone you may not like at all and working to love them as well as you love your spouse, kids, family, and yourself. Sacrifice may look like holding your tongue and trying to understand another person’s perspective or speaking the truth in love. It could be sacrificing money, time, physical or emotional labor on behalf of another. Loving your neighbor will cause you to have to do very uncomfortable things that will likely be painful for you.
Most of the time our best friends include people in which we have a lot of things in common. It is easy to get along with and like people that think like us, act like us, and want the same things as us, but Philippians 2 calls us to consider others as more significant than ourselves. We should live our lives as if ALL people are more important than ourselves, not just the ones we are naturally inclined to like. The ramifications of this make us consider people that are our enemy or people we oppose as BETTER than ourselves. We must walk in humility to not think we are superior to others because of our education, our religion, our politics, our race, etc. We must look at all people as dearly loved children of God.
Octave and the all the staff at Mwana live out this sacrificial love daily. In a world that lacks valuing people of all abilities, we cannot be more thankful that Mwana loves every neighbor. They saw the value and worth of Kameron and have given her such an amazing start to her life–for this we are eternally grateful.
Mark 12:31- “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”