The proverbial question of “who is my neighbor” can be found in Luke chapter 10 before Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. Read it for yourself, but *spoiler alert* – everyone is your neighbor.
I felt compelled to write about this after having this concept of “neighbor” come up two different times this morning. One was in my “God of Creation” bible study book by Jen Wilkin; it is a study on the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Today I read about Cain being questioned about his brother Abel, and responding with, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And the conclusion that Jen Wilkin has (and that I hope most of us would have) is YES – you are your brother’s keeper. Which then leads to the question: Who is my brother or sister (or neighbor)?
Another book where the concept of “neighbor” came up for today is called “How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds” by Alan Jacobs. I cannot say enough good things about this book – I think an entire post could be devoted to how awesome this book is. The part I read today talked about how easy it is to essentially treat people horribly when we don’t see them face to face. It’s easy to talk badly about someone when it’s a post on Facebook, or in a format where you aren’t really put in a situation to confront them. Look up the phrase “online disinhibition effect.” We start viewing people as “other” instead of “neighbor” (Jacobs, 2017, p. 82).
I think we are all guilty of turning our neighbors into “others.” And many of us are also probably guilty of saying something online that we would never dream of saying to a person’s face. If we really begin to think about the fact that EVERYONE is our neighbor, then it should convict us to to act better.