As seen on the back wall of our annex are these two phrases: Love your neighbor. Serve your city. These two values came as one of our founding employees (Rachel) was reading/watching a talk about a group of people who are creating a culture based on these two principles. We fell in love with this phrase because it articulated what we have all been feeling up to that point. In this and the next blog post, I want to unpack what these two phrases mean to us and how they drive us forward.
Lets dive into the Love your neighbor phrase. I was going to breakdown what LOVE means to us and what NEIGHBOR means to us. But I know of a story that is told that clearly communicates these two words. You may even know this story as it is rather popular within the church culture.
(I am paraphrasing here) A great teacher is approached by a elitist and is asked a question: “What must I do to have eternal life?” The teacher shots back with a question, “What does Moses say”. The elitist says, “To love God with every fiber of my life and to love my neighbor with the same”. The teacher agrees and charges the man to live as such. By the elitist shoots back because he wanted to justify his lifestyle, “Who is my neighbor”?
The teacher starts to tell a powerful story, “A man was traveling from one city to another. In the course of that travel he had to go through various terrain. There was a particular spot in that travel that hid thieves. As the man crossed this area, they jumped out and beat the man to a bloody pulp. Then they took all that he had and left him to die by the side of the road. A few hours later, an elitist of the community walked by and saw the man. He head his cries for help. But the elitist just ignored him, as if he wasn’t there, and kept on walking. A few hours after that, an assistant to that elitist was also walking on the path. He too heard the cries and saw the bloody man. And like his leader, he ignored the man and kept on walk.”
Now this is where the story takes a twist. The teacher goes on, “Then all of a sudden a man, whom is considered an outcast to that society, comes down that path and sees the man half-dead. The outcast had mercy on the bloody man and rushed quickly to help him.”
Or as my wife tells the story this way – “An Michigan State fan sees an Ohio Buckeye fan and has compassion on him.” Or “An Ohio Buckeye fan sees a Michigan State fan and has compassion on him”.
The teacher continues, “He started applying pressure to the wounds and wraps them. Thankfully he had a transport with him and was able to load the wounded soul on to it. He brings the half-dead man to the hospital and agrees to pay for ALL of the medical bills. The medical staff are shocked at the level of concern and care this outcast has on one of their own. They tell him that the bills may be higher, but the outcast doesn’t budge on his resolve to ensure the man is completely healed up and debt free.”
The teacher then turns to the man and asks, “Which of the three people helped the poor, beaten, bloody soul?” The elitist answered, “The outcast”. The teacher says, “You have your answer.” Mic drop!
The teacher (who is Jesus FYI) shares the secret of what it means to love your neighbor. That golden rule – Do to others as you would want them to do to you. Its about respect. Compassion. For EVERYONE, regardless of culture, religion or lack of, lifestyle, race, etc. The acting spirit of unity and genuine care that ACTUALLY takes place, instead of the often “speak with no action” game everyone plays. Its not about making yourself look good, but going outside of your comfort zone and caring for another human being because it is the right thing to do.