“Good Neighbors” Don’t Stay Quiet
Peace in Community
Luke 10:27; 36–37
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength,
and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” …
“Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” [Jesus asked].
He [the lawyer] said, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (NRSV)
Reflection: “Love your neighbor as yourself” may appear the simplest, and seemingly most obvious commandment for us as Christians. We like to assume that our faith is built on the foundation of love. Yet, in practice we often forget this commandment when the going gets tough, particularly when it comes to standing up to injustice.
When there is a mass shooting, we talk about how tragic the event is and then let it fade into the back of our conscience until the next incident of gun violence. When a black man is brutalized, or even killed by police, we say how terrible it is and how wrong that particular officer was. Then we move on. When a friend of ours says something about a particular group of people that is insensitive at best or downright racist at worst, we shrug our shoulders and look away, unwilling to engage in an uncomfortable and possibly heated conversation.
Jesus teaches that being a good neighbor takes more than friendliness and goodwill. In the story of the Good Samaritan, he points out the true challenge of being a good neighbor — and that we cannot simply assume we are one. Helping to heal the wounds inflicted on God’s children requires more-than-normal care, mercy, financial commitment and follow-up. It also requires listening and allowing those in our community who are suffering to give voice to their pain. It requires us to take action. And we are to do this without expecting anything in return.
If we allow our neighbors to experience injustices of gun violence, police brutality, racism or limited access to necessary resources, and do nothing, we fail in our calling to love our neighbors and our community as ourselves. So long as we fail to take action to correct these systemic issues — leaving God’s children on the side of the road, we fail at our call to be peacemakers as Christians.
When we allow one member of our community to suffer physically at the hands of injustice, we all suffer spiritually. We are one in the community of the Spirit.
Practice for Peacemakers: The next time you look at the news app on your phone or watch news on TV, remind yourself that every person on that screen is a part of God’s community. Pray for them. If you see injustice at work in your own community, do some research. Look into the specifics of the situation, as well as the larger systemic issue that situation represents. Then join a local group working to address that issue.
Prayer: God of Peace, give us the strength to speak up and stand up when our siblings suffer. Grant us the courage to engage in difficult conversations. And most importantly, help us to listen to each other. Amen.
Simon Doong served as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) in South Korea (2016–2017) and in New York City (2017–2018). He is currently a mission specialist for the Peacemaking Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). His recent work includes a webinar series on how faith communities can address gun violence, “Standing Our Holy Ground.”
This year’s Season of Peace Resources are designed to help participants explore practices for building peace on every scale. From the personal level to global issues, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Throughout the 29 days of the 2020 Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect upon:
Week 1 September 6–12: Peace Within
Week 2 September 13–19: Peace in Relationships
Week 3 September 20–26: Peace in Community
Week 4 September 27–October 3: Peace in the World
Final Day October 4: Holistic Peacemaking