Who is my neighbor?

October 18, 2018

“Who is my neighbor?”

It’s not a new question. The lawyer asked Jesus the same thing in Luke 10:29 so he could know the boundary for neighborliness. Often we ask the question for the same reason — not to see who is included, but to see who we can safely exclude.

Perhaps my neighbor is the one who lives near me. Perhaps my neighbors are the ones who are like me. We can always find a definition for the word that we like. We can continue to live in the ease that we have always known.

Chances are, you know how Jesus responded to the question. He told what might be the best-known story in the Gospels. In short, an unnamed traveler was robbed, beaten and left for dead. Religious leaders passed by and only a Samaritan, despised by most Jews, stopped to help. At the end of the story, Jesus reframed the question — “Which of the three was a neighbor to the man?”

Jesus’ question shifted the answer from geography, ethnicity or common background. The person who needs a neighbor is the person who is my neighbor.

As usual, Jesus turned our understanding upside down. If we wish to “love my neighbor as myself,” we can no longer limit the scope of love to those who “are like me.” If we want to be like Christ, we must define love’s recipients based on those in need of love. Most would agree that all are in need of love. The more that love is needed, the more we are obligated to give it.

Who is it that needs our love most? This may be a hard question to answer. However, we can start by looking at those who are, by the standards of this world, broken, weak and marginalized.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources, 14 percent of North Carolinians live with some type of disability. That number could be broken out into statistics — 285,500 people with visual difficulties, 387,700 with hearing difficulties and 530,600 with cognitive disabilities.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 58 children in North Carolina are on the autism spectrum. Additionally, approximately 36,000 people living in North Carolina are Deaf and use American Sign Language for communication.

These men, women and young people living across our communities are in great physical need and often in greater spiritual need. According to the International Mission Board, there are 70 million culturally Deaf people living in the world, and less than 2 percent of those 70 million are Christians.  
Your neighbor needs you. Perhaps it is time that we, the church, begin to open our doors to our neighbors who have various needs.

Become a neighbor to those who need love. Be a neighbor to those with disabilities. Heed the message of the parable in Luke 10 and reach out to families with special needs children. 
We are in sync with the heart of God when we answer the question like Jesus did — my neighbor is the one who needs me.

It’s time to be a neighbor.

by Donnie Wiltshire  /  Special Ministries  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

‘Iconic’ missionary encourages NC Baptists to remember their call

Sam James, longtime missionary with the International Mission Board (IMB), encouraged Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) staff members to rest in God’s call on their lives and demonstrate the supernatural love of Christ as they serve in their respective ministries....

Sexual abuse report a ‘wake-up call’ for Southern Baptists

I am deeply grieved by the findings of an investigative report published by the Houston Chronicle over the weekend which described hundreds of incidents of sexual abuse that have occurred in Southern Baptist churches across the United States during the past two decades.Part one of...

New Immigrant Hospitality Center opens in Lincolnton

Baptists have opened new Immigrant Hospitality Center in Lincolnton that will provide legal counsel and other help to immigrants. The center is not just a building, but rather is “a community effort to show love to our neighbors,” said center director Bobby Farmer. The Baptist...

How well are we impacting lostness and making disciples?

In 2013, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) adopted a strategy titled “impacting lostness through disciple-making,” which our staff began implementing the following year.Our mission as a state convention is to assist N.C. Baptist churches in their divinely...

Q&A with Richard Owen Roberts

Richard Owen Roberts, president and founder of International Awakening Ministries, is the keynote speaker for the annual “Awaken” prayer gathering, scheduled for March 8-9 at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church near Greensboro. The event is free, and a love offering will be received. A...

Mayberry doesn’t exist anymore

“Barney Gets His Man” is a favorite episode from The Andy Griffith Show. In that episode, there’s a high-speed car chase, Andy carries a gun and an African-American citizen can be seen in the background when the criminal is apprehended If that’s the only episode you ever watch,...

Cultural awareness in discipleship

This podcast was recorded during a breakout session at the 2018 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Annual Meeting and focuses on cultural awareness in discipleship. When shepherding young believers from different races and cultures, it is important to ask the question,...

Why your church should make special needs ministry a priority

It’s a typical Sunday morning and the routine begins. Kids to get up, showers to take, shoes, quarterlies and Bibles to be located — the morning is in full swing. Breakfast? Maybe in the car or just coffee at church. It’s an effort to get a family to church on time and ready to...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest news and event information by signing up for the N.C. Baptist newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!