There’s a gritty side to Christianity, isn’t there? The “good neighbor parable” for example can be a particularly tough one. In Chapter 10 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus reiterates that The Big Two commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. Someone made the mistake of asking who “your neighbor” includes, and Jesus, in typical Jesus fashion, set a pretty high bar in his answer. Pick the person who needs help the most, at the time least convenient for you, someone you don’t know or care about, and, Bingo! that’s him!
I always try to find loopholes in this love your neighbor thing. How about loving my wife extra-special today? I could be nice to my sister-in-law (for a day or two anyway), or maybe I could invite Father over for dinner. Doesn’t that win me my “neighbor points”? See Matthew 5:43-47 for Jesus’s answer, but here’s a hint: nope.
It’s not that I don’t love my neighbor in the global sense. It’s just that reaching out to the poor, injured, hospitalized or imprisoned is so…scary. People, strangers in particular, have always made me a little uncomfortable, and people in distress even more so. Should I get involved? What if whatever they have is catching? What if I do something that makes matters worse? I’d help, but I really need to get to my dinner reservation. Yeah, I get about that far before realizing how lame I’m being. And I stop the car.
Christianity is not convenient. Christianity is not sparkling clean and freshly-ironed. But neither is love. Christianity is…human. Live it.