“For the entire law is summed up in one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5: 14) That quote from Paul has an even higher degree of difficulty than when Jesus summed up the Law and the Prophets with, “…do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matthew 7: 12). Because we’re all hard-wired to put ‘number one’ first, those passages have confounded Christians for two thousand years and counting.
Back in Sunday school, I learned that “my neighbor” actually meant everyone we share this planet with, including the starving child or the refugee from a third world county. While I don’t come anywhere close to loving them as much as I do myself, on a good day, I can muster a respectable amount of empathy toward these struggling strangers half-way around the world. Truth be told, it is my actual “neighbors” that I have a problem with. (more…)