“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” - Luke 10:36-37
God began with a man named Abram. The Lord told him to leave his homeland and to follow Him to a promised land. If Abram did, the Lord promised, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3). The world pretty much revolved around this one man and he needed only to care for himself and his family. Loving his neighbor meant to love whoever loved him and his family.
But Abram was renamed Abraham and his family became the great nation Israel. Israel was given a new set of commands in Deuteronomy. Loving your neighbor now meant loving those who lived next to you, especially fellow Jews. If a Gentile decided to live among the people of Israel and adopt their ways, then that love might possibly be grudgingly extended to him. Still, it was basically love those who are like you.
But now the Master, through the parable of the Good Samaritan, taught that loving our neighbor was to be stretched even more. Our love no longer should be directed merely to ourselves, or to our family, or to our race, or to those who are like us…but to anyone in need (Luke 10:37). He taught that we are to even love those who hate us (Matthew 5:44)!
Then in His last command He directed us to spread the good news of God’s love to the whole world! “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Paul was the first Christian to really grasp what God was telling them. He told the Galatians, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians—you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
Over a span of millennia God has gradually been stretching us, expanding our vision to include more and more people in our love. In that process He has been trying to make us more like Him. But some of us are living in a world that is so small that there is little room for men and no room at all for the glory of God. We are so busy taking care of ourselves and concentrating our attention on ourselves, devoting all our energies to ministering to ourselves that we haven’t any time, money or energy left over to try to take care of anyone else. When that is so we live in the smallest world possible. We live in a world of one.
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