This is the fourth and final post in the series about loving your neighbor as yourself.
Today we are going to wrestle with the what did Jesus mean when He said for us to love your neighbor “as yourself”?
If I can persuade you to watch this video, I promise that the few minutes will be well worth your time.
The first thing that comes to my mind is that Jesus is calling me to love myself and then extend that love to my neighbor. But when I dig into the verse that Jesus referenced, I find out that there is another way to read the verse that the video captures very well.
The verse in Leviticus can also be read “love your neighbor who is like or similar to yourself”.Supporting this interpretation, just a few lines later in Leviticus 19:34, this verse has exactly that sense.
Leviticus 19:34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
This idea of comparing ourselves to our neighbor makes sense when you re-read Leviticus 19:18 “don’t seek revenge or bear a grudge, but love your neighbor who is like yourself”. When you get angry with your neighbor, don’t forget that you are the same way. We are all flawed and sinful and we all suffer from the same problems. We are all in need of God’s mercy.
This lead us to the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors”. This view takes loving our neighbor to a deeper level and puts our love for the people around us in the proper perspective. We are all flawed and hurting, so try to have compassion for those around you.
But we don’t have to just look at it from the negative view. You can also love your neighbor as yourself because it does something. Something happens when we love.
We are all created in the image of God. Each person has the fingerprint of God on them. When we love our neighbor who is like ourselves, we are bringing hope to this world through Jesus.
We are saying to our neighbor that judgment and hatred doesn’t have to be the only way.
There is another way that brings healing to our world.
When Paul said that we are New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17). He is saying more than we are changed. We are now part of something that Jesus started in his death and resurrection – New Creation.
The love that conquered all of evil on the cross is the same love that is reaching outward to our neighbor.
This loyal, holy love expressed in action is ultimately expressed through Jesus’ death on the cross. That is love. When I extend that love to my neighbor is bringing hope to our world. Love is bringing about a New Creation – a different world in the midst of this one.
How are you like your neighbor?
How does reimagining this verse help you see Jesus’ commandment in a different light?
How can you bring New Creation to your neighbor?