Brother Ron Barnes
Founder and Pastor
Statement of Faith
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Love our Neighbor?
Let us notice, it says we should love our neighbors as ourselves. It doesn't say we should love our friends. You know the saying that "we choose our friends, but not our neighbors".
So, what this means is we should love anybody and everybody, because your
neighbor might be anybody. You don't choose who is your neighbor. But your friend from among your neighbors you may choose. So, friendship is a choice. Love of neighbor is not an option.
No one should be excluded from your circle of neighborly love. The word
"neighbor" comes from "nearby". So love of neighbor requires us to love the one who is "nearby", which could be anyone. This includes our enemy, because most of our enemies are "nearby" and most of our friends are farther. Often no one can become an enemy unless one has encountered that person first.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, two sworn enemies, such as Samaritans
and Jews, are pit together into the neighborly love. Our Lord is showing that
they are still bound by the bond of Love, by reason of their being neighbors to each other. There was no love lost between Samaritans and Jews. It was so
intense that it pops up every now and then in the scriptures.
So, the point of the Good Samaritan story is that:
Love knows no exceptions / bounds.
Love and Neighbor admits no borders.
Just as there are no borders between neighbors, Our Lord is saying, "so should love between them know no boundaries."
So, if you are asking like this scholar of the law "What must I do to enter
eternal life?" "Where must I go to enter eternal life?" The answer is, "In your
neighborhood, in your household, in your backyard."
Our salvation to eternal life lies right in our backyard, It's a neighbor away.
"This command I enjoin on you, is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not in the sky, nor across the sea (overseas) so that you should say who will
fly or swim to get it for us. No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out."
It is in what you say with your mouth to and about the neighbor -- whether it isa word of condolence, encouragement or one disparaging gossip. As you can see Our Lord's dream is to make the entire world a neighborhood
without borders. His dream is to make this world free of Berlin walls, religious walls, nationalist walls, tribal walls, economic walls, but One Village where we are all neighbors, and live in harmony. In other words, Heaven is brought right here on Earth, in our neighborhood, in our household, in our backyard. Our neighborhood, household, is peaceful, comfortable, hospitable, healing, loving and caring as the Good Samaritan and all he did to take care of the victim traveler.
STORY OF A BEGGAR:
When I used to live in Florida, I used to meet a log of beggars. "Do you have a quarter?" they would say each street corner I passed. At first I was generous. But then I grew tired of their requesting. I felt pestered by them.
One day one said, "Do you have a quarter?" I said "What?"
"I said, do you have a quarter to spare?"
I almost said cynically, "You bet I do. I am sparing it right now as I walk the
street instead of taking a bus."
But I said, "You know what? As you see me walking up the street like this, it's exactly because I am a dollar short to purchase a bus ticket."
Sympathetically, compassionately, the beggar reached his ragged jacket and
he pulled out a dirty handkerchief tied in a knot. With his greasy hands he worked slowly on the knot until he had loosened it. Opening it was full of brown pennies and a few glittering silver coins.
I don't know why I was standing there for to observe this unfolding. I caught
myself still standing and I started to turn and walk off. Behind me, I hear,
"Sir, Sir!" I turned around and there was that ragged clothed man with his right hand outstretched with closed fist. I opened my hand under his hand. He opened his hand and there dropped into my hand a quarter.
"Here you go! Catch a bus!"
I tried to bargain, "No! No! No! You keep it. I will be fine."
"No!" insisted the beggar. "You take it."
"No! No! No!" I rebutted. "You are homeless. I have a home to go to."
"No! Here is my home. For you it's not. I am already home. And you are not.
Catch the bus to get home."
Some people are different from us because of their economic condition, but he was more of my neighbor that day.