How Do I Love My Neighbor As Myself?
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:36-39
Oh man, why did he add that second commandment? I don't have any problem with the first one, except sometimes with the "all" part. Like "all your heart" and "all your soul" and "all your mind".
How do you give someone your "all"?
Some days I think I'm only sold out 90% to Jesus rather than all the way. And it's usually those days that something happens to make me realize I have to be all or nothing...hot or cold...wet or dry. No lukewarm or kinda dry stuff in the kingdom. You are either in or out.
But that isn't answering my question. How do you give someone your "all"? When I think of giving my "all" I have a hard time with the 100%. I want to give 95% maybe, but not 100%. Why?
Because if I gave "all" of my 100% there wouldn't be any of "me" left over. No ego left. No illusion or personality left. No identity. I wouldn't be "me" any longer. And if I'm not "me", then who am I? Hmmmm. How many times have you asked that question? Let's think about that one for a while and move on to the "loving your neighbor" part.
Loving your neighbor like I love myself? Apparently Jesus did not have some of the neighbors I have had. On second thought, he did. His whole neighborhood was the Church of the Holier Than Thou crowd. Always trying to make him out to be something that he wasn't. Calling him names, making fun of him. And even going so far as to lie about him so that he would be killed and then they wouldn't have to worry about him. The neighborhood would be safe then.
So, I guess he did have some unfriendly neighbors. And what did he do? Well, for one thing he tried to save their lives. He cured their diseases, made the lame walk, the blind see and the deaf hear, and he healed broken hearts. And he didn't charge them anything. Totally free.
Can I do that? I mean can I love my neighbor as myself? The only reason that I could ever do that is because of my love for Jesus and what he did for me when I moved into his neighborhood. You see when someone saves your life, you appreciate it so much that if you run across another life that needs to be saved, you do what you can to save it. And that's what makes it a good neighborhood. A neighborhood that is interested and invested in helping everyone.
And when someone has had their life saved? Well, have you ever met someone who almost died and yet lived? Maybe someone who was supposed to die in the vehicle accident or illness and somehow lived? They are a changed person. What once was taken for granted is now appreciated. What once was dread now is ecstatic anticipation. What once was impossible now is achievable.
This type of person is like a blind person who has gained sight and never wants to close his eyes again. Or a deaf person who now can hear and wants to listen to every sound that has ever annoyed others. They are a new person. A new creation.
And...they are no longer their old self. Wait... It's the answer to the earlier question, "If I'm not "me", then who am I?" Answer: I am a new creation. There is no longer the old self that does not honor or respect life. This new creation can't get enough of life. No longer the person who wonders what they will say, do or think of him when he doesn't do it traditionally correct. The Creator is in him and he creates his life. He lives life and lives it abundantly!
And he not only loves his neighbor...he loves everybody! Everyone is his neighbor. Everyone is his self. He no longer has a self. Everyone is his self and he is everyone. He is the best of the worst in everyone and the worst of the best. He is nothing and he is all. And his neighbor is just like him. The neighbor just may not know it yet!
So the reason I can love my neighbor is that I am that neighbor. Good or bad. Poor or rich. Holy or sinful. We are alike in God's eyes. We are everything to Him and nothing without Him. Jesus died for my neighbor just as much as he died for me.
I'm glad I'm not me any longer. Aren't you, Neighbor!!!