15 Ways to Love Your Neighbors (Guest Post: Jason Dye)

photo © 2007 Brian | more info (via: Wylio)

 

One could argue (and many have. Trust me) that the bible is filled with commandments, limitations, laws. Things that we are meant to do and not to do. In fact, when most people think of the bible and church, they’re sure that’s what it’s all about. Bible, with a capital B.

But Jesus, who is the very center of the bible, said that we have two commandments to fulfill. That’s it. Nothing more. All of the others only serve the purposes of demonstrating those two.

The first is what they referred to as the Shema: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. That’s darned important, but it isn’t the full story. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. The fascinating thing is Jesus made it pretty clear that these two commands are intricately connected. The second one is like the first.

To truly love our neighbors, we must be willing to look out for their own good as we would want to be looked out for. And with consumerism and a heartless economic system ravaging the world and most people in its wake, our neighbors are in more need than ever before to be looked out for. With the same economic policies supporting and being supported by the majority of American Christians (specifically, white Christians), it’s not enough to throw a coin at a beggar, or to do nice things for people that you find commonalities with, or to help out a suffering soulmate.

The stories in the bible deal with these two types of love and give examples and metaphors of how to love. But, after two thousand plus years, they could use a little contextualization. I’d like to humbly offer some today.

Here are fifteen ways to love our neighbors:

1) Get to know those who live close to us by getting involved in community events, by walking, by greeting people, taking off the earplugs, shopping locally.
Not just the ones who look like you, or talk like you, or listen to the same music or watch the same movies you do.
In fact, explicitly get to know those who do not look or talk like you, nor eat the same foods, listen to the same music, speak the same language, possess the same IQ, share the same cultural cues and values, or use the same verbiage.

2) Hop on the bus, Gus. Seriously. Get to know your area and those in it at the street level. Share rides and save gas and observe the neighborhoods.

3) Listen to other stories, share our own.

4) Humble ourselves before God and our neighbors on a constant basis.

5) Realize that although the neighbors we are getting to know are individuals, they and we are largely shaped by systems put in place to keep power and wealth concentrated at the top.

6) Be involved in community organizations – including and specifically in groups that may not look like ours. Come prepared to learn and listen. Somebody there has been doing this for decades, somebody else for generations. It’s good to absorb their wisdom; they’ve been struggling and striving for awhile.

7) Read and share history on various people groups.

8) Speak truth to the powers.
Be willing to live with a population for many years before we speak on behalf of – let alone make accusations against
Get involved in local politics

9) Share meals

10) No matter how well we get to know our neighbors, we must always remember that we cannot speak for them, and that it is best to partner with them. And that will take some years to develop such a relationship of trust and mutuality and solidarity.

11) Acknowledge that our neighborhoods (highlighted by the story of the Good Samaritan) -stretch far beyond any national or natural borders and include the homesteads of our “enemies.” “Terrorists,” Mexicans, Muslims, Communists, Atheists…

12) Renounce and protest war and the criminalization, destruction, and marginalization of entire people groups.

13) Be kind and gracious even when we don’t understand.

14) Serve alongside. Never over. Never above.

15) Pray

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Jason M. Dye is a passionate Christian writer who blogs at “Left Cheek” and whose Facebook page can be found here.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    LOL. I love how #8 turned into a too-kewl emoticon.

    Thanks for sharing, Kurt!

  • Anonymous

    Love this post. There is nothing I can add. Thank you for this.

  • Anonymous

    Very well done – thank you for reiterating the obvious (but so obvious we never think of it without help, and this was VERY helpful…

  • Linda Borchert

    Thank you, Jason! I may be reposting this about once a week, if that’s okay with you.

  • Jmejerome

    #1, 6, and 10 would be hard for me to do. Mainly #1. I am not a social person. Being around too many people for too long overloads me. #6 and #10 – for the same reasons- I do understand that I can’t speak for others and won’t try to.

    • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

      well, honestly, I’m not a social person either.

  • Ian

    “And though all I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” – 1 Corinthians 13:3-8

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Rogers/100000502661790 Mike Rogers

      How does your scripture passage relate to the blog? Are you supporting or denying the validity of this post?

      • Ian

        I just thought I’d add a scripture about what love is and that points out that the action part of loving is only half the picture, its a heart issue also. Im not in opposition to the post at all, but I’m not quite sure how number 5 is related to how I treat others with love.

        • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

          We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act… We must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. -
          True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution in values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This is not just.”
          - Martin Luther King, Jr.

        • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

          We neither love nor exist in a vacuum. We humans are social creatures, biologically, emotionally, psychologically. We are created in God’s image and God is social, so are we. We have to stop pretending that how we treat each other is primarily on an individual basis. We must look at bigger pictures and see the systems that we and our neighbors are parts of, and how those systems affect others.

          If, in other words, my comfort relies on someone else being displaced and another working for slave wages, I cannot ignore that. If I’m to be a loving person in actuality, I can’t pretend that my comfort is causing their illness. I must do something about that, right?

          Does this make sense?

          I love, therefore I know what’s happening. Therefore, I work to find and produce solutions.

          • Ian

            I agree. I guess thats the application of the fifth point.

  • Anonymous

    one epic word: BBQ!!! Nothing says love like food!

    • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

      I’ll be right over, Charlie!

  • http://rogueminister.wordpress.com/ Rogue Minister

    You might appreciate this series of posts on the same idea of becoming the answer to our prayers…

    http://rogueminister.wordpress.com/2009/04/26/50-more-yes-more-ways-to-love-and-serve-no-more-excuses/


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