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Spiritual matters

Love your neighbor, even if he's weird

July 21, 2010 - Someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was and Jesus said that it was to love God with everything you have and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Thank goodness it wasn't something hard, right? But it is hard, isn't it?

While we cannot love our neighbor as our selves without loving God, I want to talk about loving our neighbor here today. What does it mean to love our neighbor?

Some people have told me that in order to love our neighbor we must first learn how to love ourselves.

Maybe they are right. I think do alright with loving ourselves. Admittedly there are people that do not treat themselves well for a variety of reasons.

A majority of us, however, manage to take care of our wants, needs, and desires with few problems. I guess what I am trying to say is that I often feel like one of those seagulls in "Finding Nemo."

They fly around saying, "Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!" I don't think I'm alone. Loving ourselves isn't the problem.

Back to the question: What does it mean to love our neighbor as yourself? I like to say that it means to love your neighbor as if it were you.

I know there are some folks that are easier to love than others. I get it, I do. Loving our neighbor is about loving the people around us like we want to be loved.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is even another way to say it.

So we are to love our neighbor as if it were us. Now who is our neighbor? Your neighbor is anyone around you. It is that person that is loveable or unlovable.

It is the person that is kind of weird and uncomfortable to be around. It is that person that dresses differently, believes differently, and acts differently than you do.

Our neighbor is a person who's political and religious beliefs are different than our own beliefs. In short, there are 6.7 billion neighbors in the world.

Okay, imagine that you are with your friends. You are all having a good time talking about all the things you have in common. In walks a person that dresses kind of funky. Their T-shirt spouts a slogan that is different from the slogan on your T-shirt.. They look like they just don't fit in for any number of reasons.

If that were you, would you want to be ignored or looked down upon? That would stink. What would you do? You know you are a pretty fun guy or gal, right? You know you have something to say and to add. You would love to get to know you, right? Hopefully, you would go over and start a friendship.

I know this isn't easy, especially if we start people that make us really uncomfortable. I know there are people that are really different than us.

I also know that this might not seem right according to what we've learned in church. But I am reminded that Jesus was a friend to sinners. He ate with them and hung out with them.

It worked for him and for us. I think it will work for our neighbors, too. I promise.

Dave is the pastor of Lake Louise.

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