Updated: Jul 7, 2021
Neighbors. Growing up, our neighbors were our friends. We fished, hunted, played baseball and football, argued, fought, and did a few things that we hoped that none of our parents ever discovered. Neighbors look out for each other. We share fences and concerns for our community safety. We borrow sugar, flour, or butter. We heartily great one another and occasionally have deeper conversations. Our neighbors in our city do not look like us or even think like us, but there is a connection that is beyond the fact there is only six inches separating the private world of our home. We often hear our neighbors laughing, talking, and arguing.
Scripture gives additional insight on how we as believers need to view our neighbors. It is at least what we have previously stated, but so much more. The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37 illustrates that our enemies are now our neighbors. and we are to love our neighbors as we love family (Romans 13:9). In the flesh, we find ourselves justified being angry with those who oppose us, our enemies. We understand that it is unacceptable to be angry with our spouse, children, and those we attend church with. But Scripture tells us that rather than being angry, we are to love those who oppose us. We love as Christ loves because we are in Christ and Christ is in us. Hatred and anger seems to rule our day, especially for those who do not hold the same positions that we hold. We are to love those who hold different political positions, love those who live different and even sinful lifestyle, love those who do not look or sound like us, love those who have different religious beliefs, love those who have different value structures, love those who are self-centered and self-serving, love those who hate us and use us for their own purposes, love our family, friends, neighbors, and enemies. We love because God first loved us. We are free to love because we have been freely loved through Jesus Christ. We are free to love the worst of people because as the worst of sinners, we are loved by God. The same love we have received in Christ we are liberated to abundantly give to others who are undeserving of His love. Anger is much more than a personal struggle that we need to overcome by the grace of God. Anger is in direct opposition to God and the love that He has given freely to us as unbelievers. Anger takes away from God's character and glory being revealed rightly to world around us. Anger and love do not go together. Sinful anger and God do not go together. God and love go together. We are free in Christ to go and love our neighbor as God loves.