Friday, December 21, 2012

My Neighbor Needs Help

Recently, I've started reading Wayne Gordon's, "Who is My Neighbor". First of all, if you don't know who Wayne Gordon is, read a biography of him right here. The guy is an inspiration to me and certainly someone I am trying to learn from. Reflecting on his years of  ministry in North Lawndale, Wayne's book takes a look at the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) and asks the question: Who is my neighbor?

The book is organized into short (2-3 pages) chapters meant to be read daily, in which Gordon points out different aspects of "Who is my neighbor?" and "What does it look like to love my neighbor?" The second days title was, "My Neighbor Needs Help". Here's what Gordon writes:

"A second obvious characteristic of a neighbor is somebody who needs help....The parables of the Good Samaritan revolves around a person who needs help-who has been left naked and half dead and is unable to help himself.

On the surface, helping others seems like a very simple concept. It's not. Of course, if all we mean by helping is opening the door for someone whose hands are full, that's one thing. But it's another thing if helping means that we have to get involved in another person's life, as the Good Samaritan did. 

These days, people don't want to get involved. Perhaps they are afraid to get involved. After all, helping others can be a risky proposition."

I love this excerpt from Gordon because I think it points out the very nature of what it means to love someone. Actually helping someone, or as I would say, loving someone, is never convenient or efficient (as quoted by Nick Theobald). It means putting aside your own ambitions and laying yourself down in the service of another. I think as people, and as Christians, we love to conveniently help people. We love being nice. We love walking around with a smile on our face while we do some really nice things (like opening the door for someone). I'm not saying these are bad. But I am saying, this is not truly loving your neighbor. That is soothing your religious conscious. Big difference. Actually helping, or loving, means getting involved with a person. It means entering into their brokenness and messiness. It means giving up your perfect schedule, emotional energy, and comfortability for the sake of another. I think Wayne Gordon touches on an important truth: that helping others (or loving) is not a simple concept. Loving your neighbor is to risk yourself for you neighbor. This doesn't always play out in the extreme example of risking your own life. But it is risking your time, energy, money, stability, comfort, cleanliness, etc...

How did Jesus love us? He risked all of those things. He risked them to the max. He put everything on the line for us. He did it so he could save us from our brokenness and give us new life. And now, for those who have this new life, he asks us to prodigally do the same. 

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