Neighborliness seems a lost art in our busy American society. Gone are the days when neighborhood mothers kept an eye on every child on their block, and stood ready with correction, or a bandage, a cool lemonade, or shelter from a sudden storm. But there was a time when this was the picture of being a neighbor.
Dad shared stories about the kind neighbor lady who lived one farm away from him when he was a growing boy in northern Indiana, stories of her homemade pies were his favorite to relive. After school each day, the bus would stop in front of her farmhouse and Dad would jump off, heading not for home, but her porch door. She knew his habit and often had a piece of warm apple or cherry pie ready. “Do you have any pie today?” he’d ask, his nose pressed to her screen door. When his little brother died suddenly on a cold February morning, this kind lady offered to drive to the schoolhouse and bring him home to his family. Dad never told us whether she had children of her own, but she showed him kindnesses that he never forgot.
God is very interested in his followers being good neighbors to one another. Aside from loving Him first and foremost, loving our neighbor is the most important commandment. And it is the fruit of loving God with our lives:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought,understanding), and with all your strength. This is the second: You shall [unselfishly] love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12: 30-31
Being a kind and caring neighbor may start with the family in the house next door, or down the lane at the next farm, but showing God’s love to those around us does not end there–that is only the beginning. So, who is our neighbor? Jesus answered that when he responded to the question posed by an “expert in the law” in the bible. It is the person we meet who needs to see God’s love in some way in their circumstances. Meeting their need is answering the greatest commandment, and loving God.