Posted by: mikenicholsblog | July 5, 2012

like a good neighbor …

Who is your neighbor? Throughout the course of our marriage, Genel and I have had some good neighbors, and well…some not so good ones. When we were getting ready to sell our home in Florida and move to Ohio, the family that lived next door to us painted their brick ROYAL BLUE!  We had great neighbors once we got to Ohio, but eventually they moved. One of our new neighbors liked miniature collies … lots of them, and those dogs loved to “speak” late at night. We moved!  I could go on with stories of the good, the bad and the ugly, but I am sure you have plenty of your own. In the course of His earthly journey, Jesus was confronted with a question by a religious lawyer. The lawyer wanted to justify his actions, and asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?

In response to the man’s question, Jesus told a parable about the Good Samaritan. We have all heard the phrase “Good Samaritan”, but in the story I wonder which role you and I would have played. Jesus relays the story of a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho. The trip is 17 miles with an elevation drop of 3,300 feet. The trail is rugged terrain and called the Way of Blood because of all the dangers. A man is robbed, beaten and left half dead by some thieves. A priest passes by on the other side of the road. Then a Levite passes by on the other side of the road. What is the deal? These religious men passed by a hurting soul, and ignored his needs. Then a Samaritan comes by … and helps the man. We can surmise that the beaten man was probably Jewish. His own people left him, and a hated Samaritan was the one to care for him. You can read the entire parable in Luke 10:30-37, but we must ask the same question that Jesus asked; So which of these three do you think was a neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?

[ Remember, parables typically intended to teach one main point! ]

If we are looking for one main point from this parable, what would it be? I would suggest that it surrounds the answer to the question, who is my neighbor? The simple answer is, anyone I can help. Defining our neighbors geographically, culturally or ethnically gives us the excuse to ignore the needs of others. The Good Samaritan helped the one in need, while the religious men left him to die. You and I may not be passing half dead wounded souls, but we daily pass by neighbors (anyone I can help) who need our touch.

As a little boy, I was a holy terror … but a friendly one! The day my new neighbors (the Combs) moved in over 50 years ago, I was sitting on their porch waiting for them. I am sure Mrs. Combs was not real blessed to have me as the welcoming committee. A year ago, Genel and I visited my home town and stopped by the Combs old house.  We walked into the yard and heard Mrs. Combs say, “Mike Nichols!”  I had not seen her in probably 38 years, but she remembered the little hyperactive neighbor boy. From a physical standpoint, I was a good little neighbor and she never forgot me. For all the neighbors (anyone I can help) that pass me by, I want to still respond like that little boy I was.

You and I are confronted routinely with “neighbor” issues. And by now you know I am not speaking about those who live to the left and right of us. Our choice will be similar to the one detailed in Jesus’ parable. Will we walk by, keep going, ignore the issue?  Or will we stop, maybe get dirty and risk some time, money and comfort. The choice we make  will have a direct and possibly profound affect on that neighbor (anyone I can help). Is it worth it to be a 21st century Good Samaritan?  Of course it is! And the Mrs. Combs of the world won’t forget you, and most importantly, the Father will be pleased. Be a good neighbor!

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