“Who is my neighbor” (Luke 10:29)? Who is your neighbor? Hold a moment. Step back to another question Cain asked: “Am I my brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9)? In some ways, both questions are churlish. In the first instance, the question about neighbor is designed to make the questioner look smart, and not lose face. In the second, the question is asked out of guilt, resulting in a different type of face saving. Both elude the question of responsibility.
Active Love Your Neighbor
In both questions about neighbor and brother’s keeper, there is a tacit acknowledgement and denial. The acknowledgement is that there is a neighbor and there is a brother. The denial is responsibility for being proactive on behalf of the neighbor’s and brother’s welfare. It is the denial of the responsibility for active love.
Moreover, in each instance it is clear that the question is the wrong one. Cain thought he could say deceive God by saying he did not know where Abel was. He then followed it up with the really presumption question as to whether or not he was his brother’s keeper. Cain didn’t factor in that God had seen him kill his brother Abel and that even though Abel was dead he still had a voice. The true question wasn’t if he was his brother’s keeper but why he had not safeguarded his brother’s life. Similarly, the lawyer’s question should not have been who his neighbor was but whose neighbor he was—whose wounds he was binding up and who he was taking to safety. It comes back to active love. The Bible is clear on the great commandments of love to God and neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40).
Do You Choose Self-Preservation or Love?
The questions active love asks are geared toward promoting and safeguarding the welfare of others, named and unnamed. They are not about self-preservation.
Self-preservation ultimately denies the life of others. It does so because as you turn inward and focus on yourself you become smaller. Others become shadowy, malignant objects to be destroyed lest you face your smallness and paranoia. Self-preservation goes against God’s agenda. God calls us to turn upward and outward in love to God and neighbor.
You have a choice. To live from a place of self-preservation or to live from a place of active love.
As we deal once again with another mass shooting and many are left grieving, carrying the scars of grief and trauma, there will be a lot of discussion. However, will there be active love in the discussion and consequent actions, or worse yet, inaction?
Pray for Active Love
When you pray about these shootings, don’t only pray for the victims and their families. Pray for a large heart that goes beyond your self interests. In addition, pray for the actions to match that promote and safeguard the lives of others. In other words, pray for active love.
Here’s the reason why. At the end of the day, you are your brother’s keepers and God expects you to be a loving neighbor who puts aside self-preservation and lives out your love for God by healing wounds and taking your fellow human beings to safety.
Removing your boundaries to a full and free life in this world through honest, whole-hearted praying.
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