A man once asked, “Who is my neighbour?”. Jesus answered with a story. By definition, the neighbour was both the man who needed help and the Samaritan that came across his path and gave help.
Almost six million migrants, born in over 200 countries, live as your and my neighbours in Australia. Many need help, and we should be a good neighbour to them. But how?
Love Thy Neighbour
Love is a verb. So to 'love your neighbour' means doing something for someone. So when someone asks me, "How can I reach out to my neighbour?" the answer is really easy. I say "Love them". How? Well imagine your neighbour was trying to ‘love' you. What would make you feel loved and accepted cared for and appreciated? Write a list.
Here’s a start. I would like my neighbour to: Say hello and know my name, know my children’s names and encourage them, invite me over for a cup of coffee and be prepared to listen to my problems and accept me, not just give advice.
Now place yourself in their shoes. How are their needs different from yours?
They may struggle with language, and/or be afraid of meeting you because you are very different, you greet differently and you relate to your family differently. So the first steps will most probably need to be yours.
You could start by taking a plate of food to befriend them. Fruit is good as nearly all cultures eat and love fresh fruit; it’s a beautiful gift from God. Then learn the basic greetings in their language. “Hello”, “How are you?” and “Goodbye” will almost surely break any cultural ice.
OK, we are halfway there! You are a good neighbour. How does Jesus in your life make a difference? Well, Jesus is in it for the long haul. Jesus does not criticise. Jesus prays for people. He goes the extra mile, he gets wet when it rains, he goes to the pharmacy at 3am, he plays with the kids when there are more important things to do, he sacrifices his Friday night football to three hours of chatting in a culture he struggles to understand. He mows the lawn, does the edges and goes to the shops. He goes with his neighbour to Centrelink, waits an hour, and helps someone understand forms and processes. He says hello and waves goodbye even if there is an unsure reaction from the other person.
I’m sure that Jesus would also tell stories. Stories about a tree that bore good fruit and one that didn’t. A story about a renegade son who spent his father’s fortune and returned home in shame. Stories about a widow giving a small amount of money and one about a religious man who loved it when people saw him pray. He would also talk about times that he prayed and love talking about his relationship with his Father.
Lastly Jesus does this gladly. He expects the Spirit to move and by faith change the hearts of others towards a loving, healing and forgiving God. You may have noticed the above advice is really not that complicated. You yourself could have written this article. However only you can make that first step to “Love your neighbour”.