“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13: 8-10)
Jesus, you command us to love our neighbors, to love them like we love ourselves. Yet most of us spend more time avoiding our neighbors than loving them. We get in the car in our garage in the morning, hit a garage door opener and pull out and head to work or whatever is on our agenda. We drive past neighbors. We drive past the poor and the homeless and we pretend not to see them. On the way back home later in the day we repeat the same drive, ignoring and avoiding our neighbors. We push the garage door opener and pull into our garage and close the door behind us “successfully” avoiding our neighbors, the poor and never even stepping foot in our neighborhood.
We know the commandment to love our neighbor. We know that Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats, those who loved their neighbors from those who did not in the final judgement. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me… “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” (Matthew 25:34, 40, 41, 45)
Yet we fence in our yards, build back decks, and structure most of our lives to avoid our neighbors. We even call where we worship on Sunday’s “Sanctuaries” from the world. Loving your neighbor takes intentionality. You have to intentionally set aside and prioritize margins of time in your day and week to love your neighbor. Lent is a good time to recommit your love for your neighbor. Lent is not only for giving things up, but taking things on. My daughter for Lent has committed to personally pray with at least one different person everyday. You can commit to prayer walking your neighborhood, volunteering at the Manna House, Downtown Rescue Mission, First Stop, House of Harvest or other ministry. “Love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Take time to watch this 3 minute video.