What does it look like to love my actual neighbor? That was my thought this week as I read the headline that filled me in on the lights I had seen a few nights earlier. My neighbor has been arrested for some pretty rough stuff. I met my neighbor earlier this summer. We had chatted for awhile. He obviously had some serious issues then, I let him know I lived right around the corner if he needed something, and our church could help with some of his other needs if he wanted it. I left and prayed for this young man and his little family for healing and hope.
The article reported that things had gotten out of control and were now far from apparent healing or any hope. I was reminded of my post on humanity and remembering that people, no matter how heinous their crime, are human. Human – Inkblot Life They belong to someone. They have a parent, a girlfriend, or a friend who is out there worried about them, or praying for them. My neighbor’s crime involved a child. Do I still love my neighbor? If so what does it look like? I am guessing he will get time for his crime, but he is still my neighbor. He is still the young man I met this summer who wanted more from life but was broken from war and sickness. He chose self-medication instead of pursuing a different road towards health. I do not know if he gave up hope and didn’t bother to look for a different path, or if his past and addictions haunt him and block clear thinking. Either way, he is my neighbor, literally and biblically. At this moment loving him and the people connected to him including those harmed by him include praying. I am not sure what else it includes. I know I cannot fix this or heal this, but I know that I am called to love and be light. The comments written under the article were harsh and violent. The hatred that oozed for this young man will not be the balm that draws him out to become the man he is capable of being. Hatred will not heal his past hurts, or the hurts of the family harmed by him. So I continue to pray for light and hope to find a way into this situation and I ask God to give me wisdom and courage to do my role in loving my neighbor. As I have been wrestling with this I have been thinking about my many neighbors and what it looks like to love them also. It is so much easier to love my theoretical neighbor than my actual one.
Lord have mercy on us.