“Christ says: ‘Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ The Pharisee answers correctly, ‘The one who showed mercy to him’ (Luke 10:36). This means that by doing your duty you easily discover who your neighbor is.… He towards whom I have a duty is my neighbor, and when I fulfill my duty, I prove that I am a neighbor. Christ does not speak about recognizing our neighbor but about being a neighbor yourself, about proving yourself to be a neighbor, something the Samaritan showed by his compassion. Choosing a lover, finding a friend, yes that is a long, hard job, but your neighbor is easy to recognize, easy to find – if you yourself will only recognize your duty and be a neighbor” (Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations).
“Neighbourliness is not a quality in other people, it is simply their claim on ourselves” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
That’s something I learned recently. When Jesus taught about being neighbors, He didn’t mean the people who live to the left and the right of you. He didn’t mean the people of your neighborhood who look like you and talk like you and think like you. It has nothing to do with where you live and where they live.
A neighbor is anyone with a need that you have the means to help. I think we’re a lot like the Pharisee who wants to qualify who his neighbor is, so he doesn’t have to step very far outside his comfort zone. But Jesus said that your neighbor will be the one God places in your path at the time where his need and your gifts will intersect. You just have to be ready and willing to obey.