Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Loving Our Neighbors

Matthew 5:43-45

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

112015 Ray McDonaldAt Christmas time – love is felt by many but not by all. I remember the little girl next door to us when we lived in Seat Pleasant – who didn’t seem to have anyone to love on her and how my dad would welcome her to play with us or eat a meal with us. My dad would even buy her some Christmas gifts as I remember. Dad showed love to others – his heart was as big as the whole outdoors.

Who will we show love to this Christmas? It is easy to love those who love us back. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Matthew 5:43–48 – 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Loving those who may not love us back is hard. Loving the person we will never meet – like those who are suffering in a far off land – is not easy. Loving those who come to our community or country from some foreign land – legally or illegally – is not easy. Loving the neighbor who is always causing trouble – is not easy. Loving the bully in school – or at work – is not easy. Loving the person who talks about you or who always seems to be negative – is not easy.  Loving the person who is immature or divisive – is not easy.

I imagine it was not and is not easy for Jesus to love us – for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus left heaven – a place none of us would even think about leaving when we arrive – and was born in less than ideal circumstances. He lived His life and died on the cross to pay for our sins. What love! John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Who is our neighbor? Are the refugees from Syria or other foreign lands our neighbors? What about those in Baltimore – dealing with unbearable circumstances at times – are they our neighbors? How about the homeless in Laurel – are they our neighbors? Are those who have lost all in Chennai – India – our neighbors? How about more specifically – the HIV positive children who have been abandoned by their parents – who are being cared for in a SHELTER – devastated by the rains and floods? We have identified a SHELTER in Chennai to support. If every family at FUMC and even others who read this blog post – would donate $50 or $100 toward their support – we could make a major difference in the lives of some of our neighbors this Christmas. Checks can be made out to First United Methodist Church (memo Chennai) and sent to 424 Main Street – Laurel – MD – 20707 or brought to our Christmas Eve service or another service or the office.  Check us out at http://www.fumcl.org.

Loving those who love us back or who can help us in some way is easy! Helping those who will never be able to pay us back or give us something in return – is where real love is experienced. Who will join me in showing love to the HIV positive children in Chennai? I’ll start the ball rolling this Sunday with a donation of $200. Who will match my gift? Who will give more? Who will give something? Showing our love to our neighbors.  Remember – we are called to be perfect in love as God is perfect in love!

Remember that Jesus is not only the reason for the season – He is the reason for every day of our lives!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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December 18, 2015 - Posted by | Advent Thought, Bring, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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