“And, who is my neighbor?” – Luke 10:29b
It’s a question that someone asked Jesus long ago. It’s a question that should be easy to answer and live out, but it’s something I wrestle with every day.
While serving in Michigan in June, I got to think about this a lot more because Jake, our homeowner’s son, loves Daniel the Tiger! The opening credits of this show were another one I heard over and over again: in fact, our crew of adults and teens were singing along by the end of the week!
It’s quite a catchy tune, mixing that old, familiar “Mr. Roger’s neighborhood” with an updated jingle that playfully reminds us of those around us.
Looking at the lyrics reveals even more to me. Here is the section we heard on repeat while working:
“So much to do, so much to see
Won’t you ride along with me (ride along)
I’ve got lots of friends for you to meet
In this land of make-believe
A friendly face on every street
Just waiting to greet you
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
In Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”
For Jake, these were his friends. He lives in his own world and meaningful social interaction is difficult. But Daniel the Tiger provides a place for him to connect with happy faces and good lessons that he very likely can hear more easily than the voices of those who are physically surrounding him.
But what about for me? Who is my neighbor?
For that week of serving, it was the family we were helping. And, it was my fellow servants.
But coming back from a special experience like that, for some reason, it’s more difficult to live out serving my neighbor.
Each of us is surrounded by neighbors in various aspects of our lives:
– I have the neighbors in our apt. complex (who my husband knows better than I do).
– The owners of the local grocery store, who recognize me when I walk in.
– The man who stands outside the Post office, handing out his card, which promotes a book he wrote about being a war veteran; A man who just wants to put a smile on the face of each person that passes by.
– Those who attend my church, both those I serve along side and those who come in as guests.
Merriam-Webster defines a neighbor this way:
It’s not just the person that lives next door to us, or down the street.
I am near to many people each day; many times meeting people I don’t know at the gas station, grocery store, etc…..
How do I treat them? Do I remember Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan?
I desire to keep Jesus’ example in the forefront of my mind, but I also am guilty of keeping my head down and walking right on by.
My time in Michigan reminded me that my neighbor likely has something to say, if I just give them a chance to speak. If I take the time to just talk to people and build relationships, that is of so much value in following in the footsteps of Jesus.
He talked to people. He ate dinner with strangers. He entered crowded places to teach and heal.
“A friendly face on every street
Just waiting to greet you”
These lyrics really do ring true, if I stop looking at my smart phone, stop listening to my podcasts every once in awhile, and daily walk with my head up to greet my neighbor.