It’s interesting that we’re so much like the religious leader in the account of the parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus said to love your neighbor, he’s the one who wanted clarification on who exactly qualifies as a neighbor. That way he would know the minimum requirements for who he had to love and who he could avoid.
I think we want to put qualifications on the idea of neighbors. We want to love them as long as they look like us, think like us, have the same convictions as us, and vote like us. Heck, we want our neighbors to be just as Baptist as we are (or Methodist or Catholic or whatever your preferred denomination might be).
Jesus doesn’t give us that option. He said to love your neighbor. Period. If there’s any qualification on which neighbor you are to love, it’s the one right in front of you. The ones who live on either side of you. The ones across the street and down the street. The ones you run into when you’re walking your dog. The ones you pass when you’re pulling out of your neighborhood on your way to work.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said “Neighbourliness is not a quality in other people, it is simply their claim on ourselves.”
That’s true. Neighbors are the ones who need to hear about Jesus. They’re the ones where you live, work, and play that God put in your path for the purpose of having gospel conversations and showing them the love of Christ.