In a retelling of the Good Samaritan by Godly Play listeners are asked, “Who is your neighbor?” The piece representing each character is picked up slowly and one by one the children are asked, “Is this your neighbor? Is the priest your neighbor? Is the one who was robbed and left for dead your neighbor? Is the thief your neighbor?” Then the children are asked, “Who are you in this story?”
Watch the Godly Play telling here: https://youtu.be/QuBNEQq8zOk
Parables are treasures that Jesus gave us. They have depth and layers to unwrap throughout our lives. They aren’t just for children but for each and every one of us. They speak to us in new ways at different life stages. When we read or hear a story it is easy to identify the players as people in our own lives, as loved ones, leaders, enemies, and even ourselves. When we look at the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10, the same thought applies. Do you see yourself in the story?
Who is your neighbor?
If you are looking for an exact definition, Jesus gives it. The answer is everyone. It’s the Jesus follower and the non-Jesus follower. It’s the person living literally next door to you and it’s the person halfway across the world. It’s the person you cross the street to avoid and the person you willingly go out of your way to offer compassion to. Jesus makes it clear, anyone who is not me is my neighbor.
Who are you?
Jesus makes it pretty clear who is our neighbor but you are still left with another question: who are you in the story? Are you one of the religious leaders who crossed the street to avoid defiling himself or to stay on deadline and at task? Are you one of the robbers who sees an opportunity and takes it regardless of how that gain hurts others? Are you the innkeeper who makes space?
Or are you the Samaritan who sees a man labeled as the enemy and risks his own safety and security for him?
What would happen if we loved our neighbors?
We are told throughout Scripture to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Jesus goes so far as to say that loving our neighbor is equally significant to loving God.
It isn’t always easy to love people but it is exactly what we were commanded to do. There will always be people who get on our nerves, whose ideas feel oppositional and who are just hard to love. But when God commands us to love others He isn’t putting a condition on their worthiness, just as He didn’t put a condition on your worthiness or mine before He offered us His love. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:10) and then told us to love others.
Once we begin to understand God’s unconditional love in our own lives, the natural response is to love others. That is what is being asked of us, to simply let the love of God already given overflow into the lives of others.
Who is your neighbor? Well, everyone. Who are you in the story? That answer lies completely on you.
If you are wondering what it means to authentically follow Jesus, join us on Unfiltered Radio as we investigate who He claimed to be and how He taught us to interact with one another.