On the heals of the inauguration and the women’s march, the tit-for-tat banter on social media continues. It has me asking, “Who is my neighbor?”

I’m in the midst of teaching a course on diversity to undergraduate and graduate students. They just finished up my favorite assignment. It is called a cultural plunge. They spend several hours engaged with a diverse population. It has to be a new group of people whom they are unfamiliar with their story. Ideally, they are facing some of their own biases. Students attend religious events at Mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples. They attend cultural celebrations with various ethnic groups. They also spend time with the homeless, those with physical limitations or sexual orientations. The students get to choose. I get the joy of reading their papers and seeing God expand their understanding of neighbor.

Scripture is filled with stories of serving the poor, widows, and suffering regardless of cultural differences. These two scriptures sum it up for me.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40 NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)

I love this class. It reminds me to reflect on my own actions, my own judgments, my own biases, and my own privilege. It reminds to reflect on how I treat my neighbors. My neighbors are more than the two families that live next to me in the middle of nowhere. My neighbors are even more than my community, church and school. I live in a global world. I am not isolated from others. I see everyone as my neighbor and believe that is the spirit of these scriptures.

I don’t have answers on how we do this globally and maintain a sense of safety from violence. I do know that walking with others, with our neighbors, brings understanding, reduces fear, and builds community. I’m ready to be your neighbor. Are you ready?

Share your experience of being a neighbor here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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