Jesus, Actually. Who is my neighbor?

Week 1: Who is my neighbor?

Writer: Alex Bost

Key Passage: Luke 10:25-37

Big Idea: Romans, Gentiles, Samaritans and other marginalized people were seen as enemies to the Jewish people. Some were seen as enemies, others were seen as people to avoid, and even major annoyances, but Jesus broke down these barriers with a simple question: who is my neighbor? Practical: why should I care about what Jesus says about diversity? Because we live in one of the most diverse areas in the world.

Invest and Invite Challenge: Who are you investing in and inviting into the story of Jesus?

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor,

Would you be mine? Could you be mine?”

Perhaps you recognize the words from this song made famous by Mister Rogers, American television personality, Presbyterian Pastor and host of the show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Each episode opened with the song entitled, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” where he invites the audience to be his neighbor and enjoy a beautiful day in the neighborhood. I can remember watching this show and hearing this song as a young boy and thinking about my neighbors that lived adjacent to my house.

 In Luke 10:25-37 we read The Parable of the Good Samaritan. This is a familiar story to most, even those who don’t follow Jesus. The idea of helping others, missional living, and social justice are things that many people can get behind. Here, the hero of the story is a Samaritan, which is significant, because Samaritans were considered to be half-breeds, a less-than race in the minds of the Jews. The question “who is my neighbor” in this parable is clearly colored with Samaritans in mind. Do you have “Samaritans” in your life? If so, who are they?

Even though this parable was first told thousands of years ago, in many ways, we are as clan-oriented today as those in Jesus’ original audience. You might be thinking, why should I care about what Jesus has to say about diversity? Well, as citizens of the Bay Area, we live in one of the most diverse and unreached (in terms of the gospel) areas in the world. Yet, our first thoughts are to look out for family, close friends, and then those who are like us. Like the priest and Levite, we forget about or avoid those who are different from us. If we are not careful our Christian communities can unintentionally become isolated and exclusive.

God calls us to more! In Genesis 1:27 we see that God created all people in His image. In the end, Christ paid the ultimate price and died for all people. The acts of creation and redemption show us that everyone has inherent worth and dignity in God’s eyes. Jesus was known as a friend of sinners and often associated, dined, and hung out with people who were looked down on, those the religious leaders thought He should avoid. Would people describe you that way? Who is YOUR neighbor?

Readings: Matthew 5:43-48, Galatians 5:14, Ephesians 4:32

Discussion Questions:

  • In what ways can you relate to the actions of the priest or Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan?
  • Can you identify “Samaritans” in your life?
  • How do you treat them differently than family or friends?
  • Think about the Bay Area or the city in which you live. What are ways you can reach out to your neighbors?

Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray that we would see and respond with Jesus’ love to all people like the good Samaritan did.