Weekly message from Cypress Church: Who is my neighbor?

Romans 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

Sociologists are not sure what exactly started it. Some say it’s because of the drive for success. Others have said it’s the rise of technology. The reality is we have become distant from our neighbors. Robert Putnam the author of “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” reports we have become increasingly disconnected from the people who live around us, our friends, shop owners, city workers, and families. The challenge of the book is we need each to be connected because that connection, that social cohesion, is important to each of us. We need others.

This is not new news as the Bible teaches the importance of our interconnectivity.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

As well, the command to love our neighbor is clear.

Galatians 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
Romans 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Leviticus 19:18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Jesus said to ‘love our neighbors’ was the second most important commandment (see Matthew 22: 35-40). In Luke 10:25-31 Jesus expands and answers the question: Who is our neighbor and what does it mean to love them? Jesus answers through telling a story we now call the story of the Good Samaritan. The one in the story that was ‘loving his neighbor’ was the one who chose to interact, engage, take the time and make the time to connect with another person. Yes, it’s risky and costly, but it’s worth it. How was this good Samaritan neighborly? He loved his neighbor by expressing active love that helped; he sought to meet another’s need.

It should be the same for us. The first step is to notice and then take action. I saw this today as a person fell coming out of a restaurant. Two of us saw a person on the ground and jumped up to help. As I was walking out the door, a kid in the booth next to us said, “I think she is hurt,” and got up to follow me out the door. But I heard an adult at the table say, “Just sit down and mind your own business.” The other one of us that went to help, along with her family, helped her up. She was ok. But the question is: Why is not a fellow human our business? Especially when we can help.

Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”-when you have it with you.

Now sure, we need to be smart and wise and careful. But why is it not our business to help or connect or to get to know or interact? Would you not want someone to help you or someone you love?

Matthew 7:12 So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Who is my neighbor? Yes, the people we live around. The people around our house, the people we shop around, go to school with, work with, and encounter along our day. And yes, those who are in need. Could it be that God orchestrated it so that you could love that neighbor in their time of need? Our communities and cities could be so much better if even a few of us would step up and love our neighbor. Who knows, you maybe that person in need one day!

Church is a great place to learn how to love our community better. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches. We are starting a new teaching series called “A Beautiful Church in the Neighborhood.” We will be walking though Jesus’ teaching of the Good Samaritan and how we might be that good neighbor to others. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net. You can even attend one of our live-streaming services (see http://live.cypresschurch.net/). We would love for you to join us.