Neighboring Takes Practice

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.
“Teacher,” he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10:25-29

Recently as I read the passage of Luke 10:25-29 (which I quoted above), I have found myself viewing it with a new lens and understanding. So often when I've seen this passage, it's been easy to cast judgement upon that so-called "expert in the law." I'd think to myself, "how silly and childish it is for him to be asking Jesus for the golden ticket to glory... How does he not get the so-called "Golden Rule?!" Even after Jesus states the command so plainly, this squirrelly expert seems to continue searching for loop holes, playing dumb like he doesn't even know who his neighbors are..."

So here I sit, two and a half years removed from my entrance into the Community Fellows program, and my move into the neighborhood here on Eucalyptus. I'd love to think I've got this neighbor-loving thing down pat by now, at least a little bit... But I don't, and it's still hard. What I hadn't seen in that passage, is how often that "expert in the law" is me.

When I moved onto my block and entered the Fellows Program, I thought I'd become an expert. I was drawn to the program because I thought I didn't have any qualms with Jesus' command of loving my neighbor as myself. What I didn't realize was the enormity of the task. I hate to break it to you, but loving our neighbors isn't a naturally occurring phenomenon. It doesn't just happen. Actually, neighboring probably goes against most of our human DNA, that is,without Jesus. Without Jesus, living vulnerably with one another, allowing other people into our space/homes is just too great of a risk.

I'm starting to realize that Jesus knew what He was asking for when He stated that great command. He was asking for everything. Everything is really hard to let go of and I'm not very good at it. The beautiful thing about Jesus and the good news of the Gospel though, is that it is through these daily acts of surrender that we experience and receive the Kingdom in our lives. But it takes practice, and that's what the Fellows Program exposed and grew within me, and hopes to continue developing in others on into the future.

Through the Fellows Program we hope to provide a space, and a context for the Kingdom and shalom to take root in our lives, relationships and communities. This year we have 6 Fellows investing time and commitment in two local neighborhoods, grappling with what it means to faithfully love their neighbor. We have been incredibly blessed and honored by the local church support we've received to make this learning opportunity possible. We thank you for your continued prayers, encouragement and in involvement, as we all daily seek to see a little bit more of God's Kingdom amongst us in our homes, neighborhoods and city!

-Robert VerWys
Sandra J. MarroquinComment