A Simple Message
“‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
I believe Tupac Shakur explained the concept of “love your neighbor” very well when he said, “Just because you lost me as a friend, doesn’t mean you gained me as an enemy. I’m bigger than that, I still wanna see you eat, just not at my table.”
What if we could look at everyone around us and never see an enemy?
An unfortunate reality is that, much like the Pharisee of Christ’s day, not everyone we meet can be our friend. Some people are simply too spiritually immature to rise above their own selfishness and avoid misusing and hurting others. Though, as children of God, we are called to love these people just as much as we would love ourselves. That is to say, we want to see them be their best selves and live their best lives. So maybe they can’t be our friends, but we don’t have to be their enemies.
I consider charities for the homeless to be a great example of this love in action. Have you ever heard someone criticize the building of a homeless shelter because they don’t want drug addicts who chose a certain lifestyle to be invited into their community?
Perhaps the same criticism for a food pantry? “Why should we share our money and goods to help someone who makes choices that leave them without food?”
Why? Because God doesn’t command us to be their friend, nor to judge their worthiness of our charity. God does, however, command us to never be their enemy, and to love them regardless. If we love our neighbors, we may not open our home to them, but we should still want them to have a home. If we love our neighbors, we may not invite them to our table, but we should still want to see them eat.