Recently, I wrote on a few points one of my friends had made in a sermon about what Christianity does. The focus of that article was that Christianity makes one honest and that being forgiven and being forgiving is a matter of honesty. That is, to be forgiven, we must honestly recognize our sin and we must honestly forgive others, which includes recognizing their sin rather than dishonestly overlooking it (Psalm 51: 1-4; Matthew 6: 9-15; 7: 1-5; Galatians 6: 1).
Christianity also affects other aspects of our lives that will make us a better neighbor. This is based on Jesus’ endorsement that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is like it – to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 34-40; Luke 10: 25-37).
In what’s called the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which you just read (always read the cited scriptures – Acts 17: 11), Jesus expanded the definition of neighbor to include even our enemies (John 4: 9; Romans 13: 8-10; Matthew 5: 43-48). So we’re not to be concerned about who our neighbor is. It’s everybody on Earth.
Neighborly love goes beyond taking the passive stance of not doing any harm. Rather, we’re to please our neighbor for his own good (Romans 15: 2; 1 Corinthians 10: 24, 33; 11: 1). We do nothing wrong or even overlook sin to please others because, as we’ve already learned, that would be dishonest. Rather, we please others in ways that please God (Colossians 1: 9, 10; Galatians 1: 10; 6: 7-10; 1 John 3: 18-24; Hebrews 13: 15, 16).
Neighborliness takes an active position that glorifies God and shows his love to the world so that they might be drawn to him (Matthew 5: 14-16; John 12: 32; 3: 16, 17). Thus, we’ll be busy, quietly working to meet our own needs and to be able to share with others (Ephesians 4: 28; 2 Thessalonians 3: 11-13; 1 Thessalonians 4: 11, 12).
Being a good neighbor also causes us to pray for the prosperity of our community and nation and then to work to bring about that prosperity wherever we live (Jeremiah 29: 4-7). This teaches us hope, which is consistent with the fact that Christianity gives us hope (Jeremiah 29: 11; John 14: 1-3; 11: 25, 26; Acts 2: 37-39; Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; 1 John 5: 7-13).
My friend’s sermon included many other concepts about what Christianity does for us, but I’ve listed these few to show that, while Christianity is based in maintaining our relationship with God and helping others to find that relationship as well, there are many aspects that go beyond meeting weekly at the church house. And, if we neglect those aspects, our salvation isn’t having God’s desired effect. We cannot reap the benefit of our salvation without exercising its responsibilities (Matthew 5: 20; 23: 23; James 2: 14-17; 4: 17; 1 Corinthians 15: 58).
So, Christian, are you neighborly?