Jesus says to love our neighbours, and includes enemies in his definition.  In this week’s story Jesus confronted the reality that Samaritans and Jews were neighbours yet enemies, and said that his followers need to love and serve one another beyond such divisions.

Elsewhere, he says it quite clearly: love your enemy.  Turn the other cheek.  Go the extra mile.  My favourite part is where he says, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Loving your friends is nothing special, but loving your enemies is special indeed.  It’s hard, it’s messy, it feels very risky, compromising and vulnerable.  But when we avoid loving our neighbours and enemies, we live in isolation, fear of the unknown and misunderstandings.

One mayor told a church leader: “The majority of issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbours.”

It’s hard to know what to say, do, when life gets messy, and especially when our love isn’t returned.  It’s easy to just give up and say Jesus’ command is too hard to follow.

But that can be explained simply enough.  We haven’t got enough practice loving those closest to us, who aren’t our enemies, in order to be ready for loving our enemies.  Loving our friendly, similar neighbours is good training for the big leagues.

So – start by just finding out – Who is my neighbour?

mapthumbDownload the attached Block Map.  You are in the middle of the grid, and think of the other squares in the grid as your neighbours across the street, beside and behind your home.  Or if it’s more appropriate, think of it as your workplace, and the squares as neighbouring cubicles.  Then write in each square:

  1. Their Name(s)
  2. One Fact About Them
  3. Something Deeper – A hope, dream, fear, challenge, etc.

Try and complete the grid as much as possible, and discuss with your group.

We meet for coffee every Wednesday night at Starbucks in the Chapters Store in Ajax, in Durham Region just East of Toronto.  Maybe we’ll see you there?

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