When we think of our community or neighborhood, we usually think of those who live close by. I live in a farm community so neighbors houses are not real close, but we have a good neighborhood. One of my neighbors has some land which he does not use so he lets me use it for cattle grazing and he does not charge rent. In turn when I kill a beef or deer I share some of the meat with his family. There is another neighbor who has a large herd of cattle and he calls on me to check his cattle and feed his animals when he and family are away from home, no charge. Recently they have had a young man to come live with them and I let him work on my farm to earn some spending money. That is what community is about, reaching out to help each other.
In the death of Christ Jesus we can see the worth of others revealed. Jesus described Christians as the light of the world and salt of the earth. (Matthew 5: 13 & 16) For years Christians have taken that mandate seriously. When disasters take place: tornados, floods, hurricanes, earth quakes, etc, Christians with food trailers, clothes, blankets are there to provide immediate needs. It is a lesson taught by early Christians. “. . . and they began selling their property and possessions and sharing them with all, as everyone might have need.” (Acts 2:45) “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” (James 2:15-16)
In his devotion, “Isolation and Involvement,” Charles Swindoll relates a quote from Dr Philip Zimbardo’s (Professor of psychology at Stanford University) “The Age of Indifference,” published in Psychology Today. “I know of no more potent killer than isolation. There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and of us from them. It has been shown to be a central agent in the etiology of depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, rape, suicide, mass murder . . . The devil’s strategy for our times is to trivialize human existence in a number of ways: by isolating us from one another while creating the delusion that the reasons are time pressures, work demands, or anxieties created by economic uncertainty; by fostering narcissism and the fierce competition to be No. 1.”
Even when we are not in our “immediate communities,” we are taught to still be neighborly. Probably most of you saw the same news broadcast that I saw of two women fighting in a Walmart store, or the two men fighting on the street that looked like the result of “road rage.” I am sure these acts were an embarrassment to their families and their immediate communities.” The apostle Paul said, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people. . . .” (Galatians 6:10)
We live in the age of instant communication which has greatly expanded our communities or neighborhoods. In Jesus’ response to a young lawyer who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He told the story of “The Good Samaritan.” Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him he felt compassion, and came and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the inn keeper and said, ‘take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’” “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
The second great commandment is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”