Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Regula Aurea = What is a Neighbor?

Regula Aurea = The Golden Rule in Latin

regyə lə aüreâ 


“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?”

Most of you recognize these lyrics as the theme song to the popular children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred Rogers was an extraordinary man and taught kindness and being a good neighbor to children through his television program. Why did he think so much of this word “neighbor” to make it of utmost importance in the early development of a child? What is a neighbor anyway? Who is my neighbor?

We can read the Parable of the Good Samaritan and see what Jesus says to this question:

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:25-37).

The lawyer was looking to justify and make himself look good, but this depended on the definition of, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered the question. Most people at that time would have pointed to the Levite and the priest as neighbors. In typical Jesus fashion, he flipped the script on the lawyer’s way of thinking. Instead of defining, “Who is my neighbor?” the question should be, “How can I be a neighbor?”

The Samaritan was the neighbor because he fulfilled the question, “How can I be a neighbor?” and showed mercy and cared for one in need. He did not bother worrying about cultural differences or anything else. He saw one in need and acted. Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.” We must be in tune with the Holy Spirit and discern those who need mercy, both physically and spiritually. It is not, “Who is my neighbor?” we are trying to answer. “How can I be a neighbor?” is the pertinent question.

Mr. Rogers’ song ends with the lyrics, “Please won’t you be my neighbor?” Figuratively, there are a lot of people laying by the side of the road half dead. There are a lot of people that desperately need a neighbor. There are a lot of people that desperately need a Savior. Are we going to be like the priest and the Levite and leave them there and make it someone else’s problem? Or, are we going to be like the Good Samaritan and be a neighbor to the half dead and hurting? You might be the only glimpse of Jesus they will see.

Just for today, be ultra aware of your surroundings and ask, “How can I be a neighbor?”

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

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