“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. This is the greatest commandment. The second is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Immediately after Jesus said these words, he was asked by a young man “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then told a story that made a protagonist out of a second class citizen. It would have been the equivalent of telling a story that made a black man the hero in 1940’s Alabama. No one that heard the story could/would believe it.
Let’s go back to junior high. Remember 7th grade? I do. Vividly. I was picked on a good bit. I was a “big kid”. I can’t remember a time when I was the same size as kids my age. It seems I was always bigger and taller than others my age. Junior high kids can be pretty mean, if you remember. So, anyone that showed me any grace or was nice to me often got picked on as well. I remember one young girl who was friendly with me being called “Ogre Lover”.
She was my neighbor. I had a few other friends. They were my neighbors too. But we weren’t neighbors until we knew we had common ground. We weren’t neighbors until we all realized we were in the same ditch. And, if we wanted to get out of that ditch, we needed each other.
When we come to the point where we work towards making life less about (me) and more about (us), we’re ready to find our neighbors. The Samaritan (2nd class citizen) in the story was riding a horse by a man dying on the side of the road. Not only did he have to get off his horse (his place of privilege), he had to get down in the dirt and pick this man up. Then he gave the dying man a place of privilege on the horse. We’re not ready to figure out who our neighbors are until we’re ready to get our hands dirty and lose our facade of privilege.