This week I read an editorial in a school newsletter from a school in Wagga Wagga, Namoi Valley Christian School. It summed up perfectly what I have been thinking about a lot lately. Thanks to the Principal Peter Henderson, for letting me share some of his words and use his article as inspiration and base for this piece.
Lately I have found it quite confronting and disappointing to see the way some people are speaking to one another, especially on social media platforms. There are so many different views and opinions around lockdowns, vaccines, mandates, bills and more. Some people seem to be struggling to be loving in the way they are communicating. At the moment it seems we can be quick to speak and slow to listen.
36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:36-40
I have started asking myself more lately, how do I go with loving my neighbour as myself? This prompted me to consider - who is my neighbour? I think it is those around us who are in our communities, with whom we interact (in person or online). My neighbour is not just the person who lives next door. How do I go at loving others? Personally, I find it relatively easy to love neighbours who are like me. It is far easier to get along well with those who have similar interests, or with those who are in a similar stage of life as me, to someone who has similar beliefs and is making similar choices. If someone is kind, caring and loving to me I know I could reciprocate. But our neighbour isn’t just the people who are like us. It’s not as simple as loving those who are like us. It is ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. We are not just called to love those who are like minded and similar. It extends to those who we might have nothing in common with, those who we wouldn’t necessarily consider loving or spending time with. So, how do I do with loving my neighbour as myself? I think that even in the best of times I can fail at this. Even when I want to love others as myself I feel like I can fall short of the mark. Even though it’s hard, especially in these divisive times, it’s not an excuse to not persevere and continue trying to love our neighbours as ourselves.
As we head towards the end of a challenging year, let’s all work harder to love our neighbours as ourselves, to be better listeners and to be slow in anger.