“How Will You Show My Love?”

21 03 2014

By Abby Nowiski
Lansing, Michigan, USA

I have often referred to Luke 10:27 as a summary of my beliefs and my duty as a Christian. In this scripture Jesus tells us that to inherit eternal life we must love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind and our neighbor as ourselves.

Until recently I hadn’t realized the true challenge lies in Luke 10:29 (NRSV), when a lawyer, “wanting to justify himself,” asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In the small Michigan town where I grew up, my neighbors looked mostly like I look and had beliefs mostly like mine. My perceptions were challenged a few years ago, when my husband and I moved to Memphis, Tennessee, so I could earn a master’s degree.

We moved into an apartment near the university in what was once the zip code with the city’s highest crime rate. It seemed that everywhere people looked different, talked differently, were less educated, and had values different from my own.

One day I decided to walk to the bank. I walked past a pawn shop and a liquor store with bars on the windows. A man greeted me and asked if I wanted to have lunch. I smiled, said no, and kept walking, perhaps more quickly.

I never found the bank, and eventually the heat persuaded me to head home. I realized I was too faint to make it without stopping for water. I reluctantly walked into the liquor store and saw the man I had ignored earlier.

He greeted me again, gave me his seat in front of a fan, and handed me a bottle of water and half of his sandwich. We shared a meal after I earlier had determined he was not worth joining for lunch. We talked until we were kicked out for loitering.

I met a new neighbor that day, a kind man with good intentions. I had assumed he had nothing good to offer me, and he ended up filling my need for food and water. More importantly, he taught me a lesson I will never forget.

Until I met Deion, I had justified myself by defining my neighbors as people like me. It became apparent that I sometimes valued people based on education, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or status.

Those who were not in my neighbor box were people to be feared, or helped—not loved. When those boundaries were removed, I experienced the true power of God’s love through my neighbor.

As I begin to open my eyes to the worth of God’s people everywhere, I often hear God whisper, “She is your neighbor; how will you show my love to her?”


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