In 1999 a young Parisian had a vision. He was concerned that there was such a disconnect between neighbors. When he heard of an elderly neighbor found dead after four months in a nearby apartment, he established what is called, “Fête des Voisins” or Neighborhood Parties. At the end of May or the beginning of June neighbors come together in yards, streets, and courtyards to share a meal. Such a simple idea has spread to 36 countries with over 20 million participants! Out of these gatherings has come a renewed community life. Marriages have been established, some have found work, and grandmothers have felt less isolated.
Today’s verse has something to say about our attitude towards our neighbors. Living in close quarters with people different from ourselves is rife with possibilities for conflict. Not only are we told not to despise our neighbor, but we are to actually love them as much as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27). What an impossible challenge that seems!
Jesus explained that loving our neighbor is the second greatest command after loving God. When I love the Lord with my whole heart, soul, strength and mind I am in a better place to love my neighbor. In fact, the way I demonstrate my love for Him is by how I treat my neighbor and respond to his needs. Loving God finds its expression in the love and kindness I show those around me. Today’s verse promises blessing to the one who is kind to the needy. Regardless of the imposition and inconvenience it may be, I am always blessed when I make the effort.
Lord, give me opportunity today to show Your love to my neighbors.