Like a Good Neighbor…

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The State Farm jingle, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!” was written by Barry Manilow in 1971. Can you hear it? Are you humming yet? And are you a good neighbor? Hmmm. Am I?

Not long ago, I attended two different churches over two weeks, and listened to two different pastors give two different sermons on—you guessed it—being a good neighbor. They both used the story of the Good Samaritan, found in the book of Luke. (You can read it here on Bible Gateway.) Thanks to Ty VanHorn and Jason Dohring, I came away with quite the bullet list:

  • Be living proof of a loving God to a watching world.
  • Be neighborly.
  • Don’t wait for someone else to be neighborly.
  • Share a card. Or a wave. (Or a text? Or an email? Or a cup of soup?)
  • Get messy.
  • Be inconvenienced.
  • Pay the price.
  • Pay attention.
  • Get involved.

And may I add a simple one? Be nice! My sister describes my husband this way, “He’s nice, but he’s not a wimp.” Being nice doesn’t equate to being weak. In fact, sometimes being nice—and being neighborly—means standing up in the face of injustice or unkindness and loving the less lovely. Why? Because we were loved first. As one of those two wise pastors said, “Being friendly takes little effort. Being a friend takes much.”

How have you been friendly, neighborly this week? We could all use a few good suggestions, so I hope you’ll post one here!

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Divine Interruptions

Good samaritan

The Good Samaritan. We’ve all heard of him. Generous. Unprejudiced. Willing to help a person in need. Yesterday, though, as I reread Luke 10, this struck me:

The Good Samaritan was willing to put aside his own agenda. Stopping to help the wounded traveler blew away his plans for the day.

The Samaritan was on the road. He was headed somewhere. He must have had a schedule and a destination. All of that evaporated when he saw a man in pain. Helping out cost him money and effort, but it also cost him his time and his plan. And often that’s the hardest thing for me to give up.

Sometimes the interruption is as small as a phone call. A friend just wants to talk. (But I was planning to write.) A neighbor asks for a ride to the doctor. (But I had planned to get things done around the house.) Perhaps someone needs a place to stay for a night, or a week or a month.

None of us are meant to meet every need. At times, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that,” is a perfectly acceptable answer. But, the Good Samaritan was willing to be inconvenienced. Oftentimes, our Lord asks the same of us.

Micah 6:8 tells us to seek justice and love mercy.

John 13:34 recounts Jesus asking his disciples to love one another as he loves them. (A tall order when you think about it.)

And as for the Good Samaritan, here’s the end of the story:

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Have you ever had your day blown away by a divine interruption? How did things turn out in the end? I hope you’ll share your story in the comments section, helping encourage us all to do the same.

(Photo: Good Samaritan by Georg Pencz)