We Know that God has called us to love our neighbors, and we know that neighbors are more than those who live in the houses on either side of us. We know that neighbors are all of the wonderful people whom God has created, and with whom we get to share His earth.
We know those things, but what do they mean? Have we heard them and simply remembered them? Or have we truly wrestled with it in our hearts? Love your neighbor? Why? What if I don’t like my neighbor? What if my neighbor is loud and obnoxious? What if my neighbor is incredibly sinful and not a believer? What if my neighbor is all of these things because they are broken … just like you and like me? What if the reason God has placed this neighbor in my life is because through my brokenness, I have been made strong through Christ? What if He’s placed me here to share that strength with my neighbor who is hurting?
I recently sat in on a student-led devotional based on I Corinthians 13:13, which reads, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Paul, the author of the Corinthian letters, through inspiration, shares that love is the greatest attribute of God. Everything we know, see, and love is because of God’s love for us. “We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19).
We were created out of love. And God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us because He loves us. He allows us to face trials but promises us that when (not if) they come, He will walk beside us. This makes me think of Isaiah 43:2, which reads, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Promises of love are laced all through God’s holy and perfect Word, and that’s not a mistake or an accident. We make mistakes and we fail, but our God doesn’t. For us that means that we need to look to Him as the example to follow; when we fail, we need to use the strength He gives us to stand back up on our feet and love our neighbors through our imperfections and through theirs.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Each and every person on this earth is the Lord’s perfectly made creation, and He wants everyone to come to know Him. We get the honor and blessing of living with the people God has placed in our lives and sharing the love the Lord taught us with them. Showing those around us love could mean a million different things. It could mean grabbing a cup of coffee with an old friend, it could be holding the door for the person behind you, saying thank you, calling home, or an apology you’ve been too uncomfortable to reach out and give in the past. Whatever loving your neighbor looks like for you, I challenge you to start now, start today because we have been graced with life at this present moment and we don’t know when we will be called home. So now, put love first.
Maggie Lewandowski [AFLBS senior] is a member of Ruthfred Lutheran, Bethel Park, Pa.
This article first appeared in Kinship Magazine, Winter 2019 Edition.
Kinship is a magazine of the Free Lutheran Schools. Stay up to date on latest news, student stories, classroom highlights, and fun tidbits about life on the AFLBS and AFLTS campus.
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