Who is your neighbor? Can you name any of the neighbors in your neighborhood?
The Hebrew people used to be slaves in Egypt, but God rescued them out by his mighty power. He brought them through the Red Sea, across the desert and to Mount Sinai. Here they will learn who God is and what it means to worship him. And here at Mount Sinai God will give the people one of life’s two most important rules. Here it is:
Leviticus 19:18. you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Hundreds of years later someone will ask Jesus what the most important rule is and he will say this:
Matthew 22:37-39. 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
According to Jesus, the two most important rules are 1) Love God, and 2) Love your neighbor. And, in fact, Jesus says these two rules are equally important.
But why does God command us to love each other? Because love is the whole reason we were made. It’s the reason we’re alive. We all want to be loved, and we all want to love someone else. That’s why when we are born, we are born into a family that will immediately start loving us, and over time, teach us how to love.
But God’s important rule doesn’t just say, “Love your family as yourself.” And it doesn’t say, “Love the people who love you first.” It says, “Love your neighbor.” Why? Because every single person is a neighbor. And every single person is your neighbor whom you are to love.
You see, in the Bible your neighbor isn’t just the people who live next door to you. Your neighbor is everyone. Every person you come in contact with is your neighbor. No matter who they are or what they are like. No matter if they are a boy or a girl, black, brown, or white, rich or poor, old or young. And no matter how different they are from you. God wants us to love every other person, and be kind to every person, and help every person, without condition.
But let’s be honest, this important rule from God is very hard to obey isn’t it? None of us is very good at loving others are we? We get mad each other. We can even be mean. Or we just ignore other people sometimes. We tend to only love the people we like, instead of loving everyone like God says.
But thankfully Jesus came to earth and loved everyone perfectly for us. Jesus is the greatest neighbor ever. He not only showed us how to love our neighbors, but he also loved all the neighbors in all the neighborhoods when he died on the cross for everyone. Jesus obeyed God’s most important rule FOR US, so that even when we fail to love our neighbor, we can still be loved by God.
And here’s the best part – when you let Jesus love you as his neighbor, he takes you and makes you part of his family. When you receive God’s love through Jesus, you become God’s son or daughter, Jesus’ brother or sister. One day we will all move into the same house together. We will live together forever with God as one big happy family!
Because of Jesus I know that God loves me, not just as a neighbor, but as his child.
With Jesus I can love my neighbors as myself.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Plan a way that you can love your neighbor this week. Can you take them a meal, or cookies, or simply check up on them?
Talk about ways that we can treat everyone with love and respect. Not just our friends, but even those who aren’t our friends yet. Talk about how to reach out to others and make new friends.
And here’s a VeggieTales classic.
You are the one who loves me the best even when I don’t love others very well. Help me to be able to love everyone because I know that I am loved by you no matter what.
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