Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series on "The Art of Neighboring" by looking at Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18. This is the passage where God commanded the Israelites to "Love your neighbor as yourself."
This passage has been called the fundamental definition of what it meant for Israel to be a holy nation. Religion and how we treat our neighbor cannot be separated.
Who is our neighbor?
There was commentary and debate about this question in this passage. From verse 10, it suggests even the poor and foreigners were included. But from verse 17-18, some argued that it only meant fellow Israelites.
Jesus spoke to this question with the parable of the Good Samaritan. His answer:
Our neighbor is anyone near us in need.
Why care? What's our motivation for loving our neighbor?
God answers this question over and over in the passage: Because "I am the Lord."
God is holy, so we must be.
God's holiness is the standard of His people's behavior and the foundation of their behavior.
We don't treat our neighbors with kindness to get more friends, to be more respected, or even because they need us.
We reach out to our neighbors because they're created by God.
God is our motivation.
We get caught up in ourselves and our own story. It's not about us. It's about God and what He wants for us.
The reason we act with kindness toward our neighbors is because of God.
How do we neighbor well?
This passage gives a practical list of ways to do that.
Be generous and truthful. Don't steal or take advantage of people. Act with justice. And so on.
Summary: We love our neighbors as ourselves.
These aren't only about behavior. They also are about how we feel -- don't hate, don't bear a grudge, and so on.
We should plan and strategize to help meet our neighbors' needs. (Example is leaving part of the harvest to be gleaned. That takes planning.)
Try to strategize to actively reach out to your neighbors.
With that in mind, we finished the service by meeting in groups with other people from our neighborhoods and prayed together for them. And we're encouraged to actively look for ways to reach out.