Texts: Deuteronomy 30:9-14; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37
Perhaps he wanted to know the limits of what he was required to do; in other words, where to draw the line between “neighbor” and “stranger,” between those who require love, and those who need only benign neglect. Or maybe he wanted further affirmation from Jesus that was already loving the right people. Either way, it is the answer to his second question that is most difficult.
Loving one’s neighbor is an easy enough thing to do—if one gets to choose one’s own neighbors. People who look like us and think like us, people who come from the same backgrounds and have the same values, people who have similar ideas about religion and politics and money, these are the people we have little to no problem loving.
It’s when new folks start moving into the neighborhood that things get messy. What about our neighbor who parrots back crazy conspiracy theories from radical fringe groups? What about the neighbor who comes from another country and can’t even speak the language? What about those neighbors who worship different gods and call us infidels? Those neighbors are harder to love. We may try; we may even welcome them into the neighborhood and be the first to extend a hand of friendship, but sometimes the differences are just too much and we find it hard or even impossible to “go and do likewise.”