Who Is My Neighbor?

Pastor Abraham Allende of Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Maple Heights.At the outset, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Reverend Abraham Allende. Since September of 2009 I have served as Pastor of The Lutheran Church of the Covenant, 19000 Libby Road, in Maple Heights (map). I am thrilled to have been asked by William Brownlee to contribute a column to the Maple Heights News regarding faith issues.

I am grateful for this opportunity to communicate with you through this online newspaper, the Maple Heights News. It is my goal through this writing, first and foremost, to glorify God and our Lord Jesus Christ; to draw you, the reader, into a greater awareness of God’s abiding presence in your life; and, hopefully, that through the thoughts expressed here, we may bring about positive change: change in your personal life, and change in the city of Maple Heights – a change that promotes hope and encouragement to the people who live in our neighborhoods and beyond.

Our neighborhoods matter

In the limited space left, I want to use a question that a man asked Jesus in the Bible once, “Who is my neighbor?”

The story can be read in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10. The questioner was a lawyer who was trying to test Jesus. But despite the man’s motives, it gave our Lord an opportunity to tell a story, a story that we know as the parable of The Good Samaritan. I would encourage you to read the parable in the Bible, but here is a brief summary. A man was robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. Two religious people, a priest and a Levite, passed by and did nothing. But a Samaritan, a group of people that were despised by the Israelites, stopped by and helped. It didn’t matter to this Samaritan what other people thought of him. He saw a need and did what needed to be done.

Jesus asked the man, “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” [Luke 10:36-37]

Too often, we are unwilling to step in and help because we don’t want to get involved or because of what others might think. We don’t check on our next-door neighbor when we see something that doesn’t seem right, or we walk past people who are treating others rudely for fear that we may be harmed. We do live in a risky world, but sometimes a risk is worth taking if we can save a life or calm down a confrontational situation.

Martin Luther King, on the night before his life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet, was speaking in support of a group of sanitation workers in Memphis. In his remarks, he made reference to this very same Bible text. He told the gathering very simply, “Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.”[1] He went on to say, “The question is not, ‘If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me? but rather, ‘If I do not stop to help, what will happen to them?’”

This unbelievably profound truth can literally change our lives.

 Contributed by Reverend Abraham Allende
 Lutheran Church of the Covenant, Maple Heights

[1] http://www.afscme.org/union/history/mlk/ive-been-to-the-mountaintop-by-dr-martin-luther-king-jr

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