Love Your Neighbor Part 1

Have you ever been told to “love your neighbor”? Maybe your mom told you that because there was a new kid in school and you thought he was weird so you wouldn’t let him borrow your crayons. You may have been told that Jesus said those infamous, and frankly annoying three words.

And he did! In Mark 12:30 and 31, Jesus explicitly says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

It seems to me that you can’t do one without the other.

One of my favorite book series is The Giver. It’s a dystopian young adult novel, and the premise is that this kid, Jonas, is chosen to learn the history of his people- something nobody else knows about. There’s a concept called Sameness that is employed in his community. Basically, all differences have been eradicated.

Everyone dresses the same. Everyone lives in the same type of house. Everyone uses precise language. Climate control provides the same weather all the time. They’ve even been able to get rid of all color in the name of Sameness.

Jonas starts to realize what else is lost when celebration of differences disappears. You lose beauty. You lose love.

So, back to “love your neighbor.” Jesus didn’t say “love your neighbor as long as he’s straight.” As long as he’s a he. As long as he’s the same color as you. As long as he’s American.

Jesus put zero stipulations on that phrase. Love God and love God’s children. That’s it. We try to overcomplicate it by dehumanizing people, but every human has the same yearning for love and acceptance regardless of anything else, and God loves us all. So, take all the baggage away, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Stephanie Wilczynski has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009. She is pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Andrews University.