Who remembers Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood? I loved watching this show as a child and still remember that its theme song ends with a simple question, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”. (For those who are not familiar with this, here is the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtc7A67kZlQ )
At the beginning of every show, Mr. Rogers would ask me (the viewer) if I would be his neighbor? Have you ever thought about who are your neighbors? Do you limit your neighbors to those who reside in homes you see surrounding your house? There was a time when I did. Now, I have a much broader definition.
He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” —Luke 10:27-29
Do you think Christians see each other as neighbors? (YES, I know the cited verses come out of the Parable of The Good Samaritan. My thoughts, however, are in regards to the Christian community.)
As I ponder this, I wonder how the world would be if Christians actively and proactively confirmed that we are neighbors. Would this awareness spill over to being less judgmental about our religious differences, our socially constructed racial differences, our socio-economic differences, our political differences, and so on and so forth? I often think about, how is it possible that people professing Christianity can have so much disdain for another person, for another Christian in particular, because of differences in politics, or because of differences in complexion, or because of differences in sin. I think about how various denominations and sects amongst The Church have people more loyal to a church’s bylaws than to The Father, to The Son, and to The Holy Spirit. I contemplate how we have become so desensitized by the terminology of Brother and Sister that we have loss the concept of Family.
Upon introspection, I challenge myself to be more conscious of the people I pass and of the ones I engage. I would like to think that if I saw someone in need I would stop to help, but I know this is not always my truth. As I mature, I understand that everyone I pass has a need. Some have needs I can see, while others have needs I cannot see. Yes, everyone has a need. I am no exception. Yet, I am to love my neighbor as I love myself. Ahhh, and that is where the balance lives. The central question is, “How do I love myself?” How do you love yourself?
God is great isn’t He! A few years ago I took a considerable amount of time to discover for myself how I loved myself. By doing so, I realized that I was not loving me continuously, consistently, or enough. How tragic, right? Once I made some life-altering changes, gone were the emotional attachments that tired me as a result of my good and merciful deeds. Long gone they are.
My neighbors are people who I know and those I do not know. Although I am not as bold as Mr. Rogers, I have grown to a point that when I show up in a place, I do with the same inquiry, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”