In Luke 10:25, an unidentified “expert in the law” felt the need to test Jesus as many of the people of the time would do. He asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. This is a fair question, and one that in one way or another people are still asking today.
Because most of us prefer to think of ourselves as immortal, forever beings, we always want to know the secret to a forever life. Be it the fountain of youth, the newest supplement or wonder cream, we all seem to want to do everything possible to stave off any signs that make us think of the end of our life here on earth. And, if we have become comfortable with the notion that we will indeed transition from this earthly form into a more ethereal being, we would like to know how to keep it going…. forever.
The Answers Lie Within
So, the question on how to inherit eternal life is a valid one. If this time on earth has not met our expectations, surely the next one holds promise. Because Jesus knew that the answer for all questions lay within each one of us, he spun the question back on the “expert,” asking him for his own interpretation of what he already knew.
The “expert” answered that, as he understood the writings, eternal life could be had by loving God with all of our entire being (Luke 10:27) AND loving our neighbor as our self. I picture Jesus giving him a big, high-five for his answer. Pressing Jesus further still, the “expert” asked, “But, who is my neighbor?” Another valid question, both then and now. Hold this question in thought for a moment. What would your answer be?
Who Exactly Is Your Neighbor?
In response, Jesus recounted the now famous parable of the Good Samaritan. You may recall the parable depicts how two individuals of high birth passed by a beaten traveler, leaving him to suffer alone on the road. However, the Samaritan stopped to administer aid. Then, escorts the beaten traveler to a safe and secure place where he can heal.
The Samaritans were a group of people who lived in the area called Samaria, north of Jerusalem. To their neighbors, they were half-Jews and half-Gentiles, neither fish nor fowl with no definite identity, the lowest of the low. The Samaritans maintained their own unique copy of the first five books of Scripture as well as their own unique system of worship. During the years of Jesus’ ministry, the Jews and the Samaritans did not interact well with one another. The Jews looked down upon the Samaritans who were considered unclean. Jesus, however, ministered to the people of Samaria as well as using them to illustrate some of his teachings.
We Are All One Another’s Neighbor
It was very typical of Jesus to emphasize a story using the disenfranchised as hero. The parable of the Good Samaritan is just one such case. Using someone considered “unclean” as an example of a good neighbor is very telling. Jesus knew teaching this way would pack a spiritual punch, so to speak. Still, even today, thinking of someone completely outside of our own culture as a “neighbor” can be a stretch for some.
Listening to global news, local reports or even typical conversations, how often do we hear of others outside our circle of family and friends being discussed as foreign, different, strange or not one of us? Surely, if we are all one, we are also all neighbors. Unity metaphysically defines neighbor as: “Every soul that dwells upon the earth.” I am your neighbor. You are my neighbor. And, we are also neighbors to everyone else in the world.
In Spirit, There Is No Distance, No Separation
In Spirit, there is no such thing as distance. Nor, is there any separation between us and the operation of spiritual laws, which operate the same for all of us, no matter where we are, no matter our personal circumstances. Spiritual laws are equally available to all, and they operate without prejudice. For example, it is only through us that the law of divine love can bind up and heal wounds, dissolve errors, or restore order from out of chaos. Love needs all of us equally in order for it to express its fullest potential.
This is also true as it relates to the divine idea of Oneness and unity within our world. We are all one. We are all neighbors existing in the closest of proximities possible. No distance in spirit and no separation in the operation of spiritual laws. Through divine love, Spirit expresses the Universal Christ that resides within every being.
The Entire World Is Our Neighborhood
Being a “good neighbor” is not simply waving at another homeowner on your block. It is also much more than just allowing another driver to merge into your line of traffic. Likewise, it is not simply being willing to hug someone you see on an occasional basis. In its fullest sense, neighborliness is an outward manifestation of the Universal Christ, which resides within us all. In short, neighborliness is divine love in expression.
Regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, socio-economic status, in Christ, there is no one who is above or below another. We are all neighbors and the entire world is our neighborhood. Whether a person is outside of our family, outside of our religious circle, or even outside of our culture, it makes no difference. We are all neighbors. To truly live in community, in true relationship with all others, we must expand our definition of what it means to be a “good neighbor”. Jesus knew this was true thousands of years ago. And, it is still true today.