Even as a small child, Jesus had the remarkable ability to love his neighbors in a way that we rarely do. Matthew 2 tells the story here. We often think of these three guys on camels riding in the desert guided by a star. Weird hats, flashy clothes, rings on their index fingers, long pointy beards. One of whom is probably non-white skinned…just to keep the story more exciting! But we don’t think about the guys themselves – they weren’t Jews. They didn’t know God. They were strangers. They were foreigners. But they came to honor the Messiah. Joseph and Mary opened their doors to these men and let them present gifts to their son. They didn’t just give gifts, either – they “…bowed down and worshiped him.”
We’re called to love. We’re called to love as Jesus loved -by sacrificing, giving, encouraging, teaching, helping, living for others before ourselves. We’re called to be less and help others to be more. Matthew 22:39 says we are to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The word for neighbor used in this verse is ‘plēsion’, meaning “…any other man irrespective of race or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet…” That pretty much means anyone.
Many times I hear my non-Christian or non-church attending friends talk about how hypocritical Christians are – saying one thing and doing another…called to love, but exclusive. And part of me thinks they’re right. Some Christians are unloving. Some are racist, homophobic, and xenophobic; they don’t like people in different social or economic classes. They’re afraid of change, afraid of new things, afraid of what or who isn’t in their idea of ‘Christian’.
How many times do we have the chance to love as Jesus loved? Not just to the ones we’re comfortable with loving, but the ones we don’t even know? How often do you have the chance to love the homeless, the sick, and the weary? How often do you have the chance to love Muslims, Hindis, Sikhs, atheists – people who don’t agree at all with your beliefs? How often do you have the chance to love people of other races, other sexual orientations, other income levels?
These are our neighbors.
They need to see Jesus’ love as much as we do.
They need to know Jesus’ love.
They need to see us expressing that love.
.much love. sheth.