The second most important commandment, Jesus said, was to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Why our neighbor?
Decades ago, G.K. Chesterton offered an explanation:
“The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world…. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.
“We make our friends; we make our enemies, but God makes our next door neighbor. Hence he comes to us clad in all the careless terrors of nature; he is as strange as the stars, as reckless and indifferent as the rain…. That is why the old religions and old scriptural language showed so sharp a wisdom when they spoke, not of one’s duty towards humanity, but of one’s duty towards one’s neighbor.”
Of course, Jesus was the first to expand the word “neighbor” to beyond those with mere physical proximity to us. But by the same token, our literal neighbors matter too.
They may not share our convictions, lifestyle, or worldview, but agreement is not a necessary prerequisite for love. So, our actual neighbor might be a great place to start.
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