Are You a Good Neighbor?

Today I am visiting our Nation’s Capital with my 11-year-old son. He asked me on the bus late
last night on the way here, “What do people who live in Washington D.C. think?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, just, the people who live in Washington DC, they get to live in the Capital of the whole
country! I just wonder what they are like,” he replied.
Did anyone else just have a flash of the people from District 1 in “The Hunger Games” flash
through their minds?! Just me? OK….
But in all seriousness, he considered the people living and working here with wonder in his
voice. To see the world through the eyes of a child… the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as
these. I considered his admiration and wonder for a moment and then I answered, “I think for
the most part they are people who care about what happens in our country. They are people
who believe they can make a difference and preserve our freedoms. They are probably
passionate people.”
“Do you think their will be protestors?” he asked. (Did I mention that my 11-year-old gets up in
the mornings, often fixes a cup of coffee, and then sits naked on the couch to watch a little bit of
national news before getting ready? He is a history buff, knows more about World War II than
anyone I personally know, and is genuinely so excited to be in D.C. today!)
“There might be. There are usually always protests going on in D.C. But that is one of our many
freedoms to be thankful for because that would be illegal in many or even most countries in the
world. Even if we don’t agree with them, I’m thankful they have the right to do it,” I replied. He
solemnly nodded his head in agreement and turned to look back out the window
In the book of Luke, a lawyer asks Jesus the key to eternal life. Jesus turns the question back
on him, as many wise teachers do, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”.
Essentially, they agree that the correct answer is love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and
strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. But then, like many of us, the lawyer wants to
justify himself by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” Maybe it’s because I am so very, very
guilty of this myself, but I do sense a little sarcasm in the lawyer’s voice here.
Jesus, ever the gentle but poignant teacher, tells him, and us, a parable. It is one many of us
are familiar with already: The Good Samaritan. To paraphrase, a preacher or “good person” is
robbed and beaten and left on the side of the road for dead while on a road trip. Another
preacher comes along, sees him beaten up, and crosses to the other side of the road. Then
another “good person” passes by that way, and he too crosses to the other side of the road and
keeps going. We don’t know why they don’t stop and even cross to the other side of the road:
running late, inconvenience, fear? Does it matter?
Because then comes the Samaritan. For context, Jews of that day, the very people Jesus was
teaching when he was telling this story, hated Samaritans. And vice versa. They were not
friends and would not even pass through each other’s towns. They weren’t welcome in each
other’s homes or churches, and they looked upon each other with complete disgust and
condemnation. But as the Samaritan heads down the road, he sees the robbed and beaten man

and stops to help. He cleans and bandages him up, puts the man on his donkey, takes him to
the next town, buys him a hotel room and asks the innkeeper to please take care of him, paying
him a good sum then and promising to come back and pay him more if needed to ensure the
fellow has time and care to recover.
It is easy to answer Jesus next question: “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a
neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” It was the one who showed mercy, and Jesus
says to the lawyer, and to us, “You go, and do likewise.”
The Samaritan in the parable didn’t ask about the beaten man’s religion, nor about his political
beliefs, nor about his sexuality. He didn’t ask him who he voted for in the last election or how he
feels about abortion, premarital sex, or gun control. The good neighbor did the next right thing:
he cared for someone who was hurt on the side of the road. He sacrificed his own comfort and
gave generously to take care of someone who couldn’t care for themselves in the moment. He
didn’t ask questions to ensure that this was someone “worthy” of those things. He didn’t ask if
the man was a Jew or a Samaritan (although in that time, it was obvious based on the way
people dressed, styled their hair, etc. …. sound familiar?!) He was just a “good neighbor”.
We make life way too complicated. We want people to be labeled, and we label ourselves. We
feel strongly about what people should and should not do within their own homes and
bedrooms. We want to beat our chests as proud Americans and say we stand for freedom, so
long as that freedom is for those who think and act and believe and vote like we do.
And yet more than 60% of elderly people in US nursing homes will never have a single visitor.
There are prisoners who have never held a Bible in their hands or been shown the love of
Jesus. There are people, possibly under your roof right now, who aren’t sure what they believe
in because life hasn’t exactly fair to them. There are people in your life, right now, guaranteed,
who are walking through divorce, addiction, depression, you name it, and they smile and fake
being happy, all the while believing that nobody understands or cares about their pain.
So, today, as I walk the Mall on Washington D.C., the capital of the United States of America,
with my 11-year-old son and we visit the monuments dedicated to the courageous soldiers who
gave their lives in many wars and in many ways to protect and preserve our way of life, I will
remind him that every person we see is our neighbor and a beloved child of God, made in His
image, just like we are. We are so blessed to be in the United States of America, where the
fight for “right” can continue through protests, through a democratic vote, through voicing our
But at the end of the day, there is truly only one way to make a difference in this life: love God
and love others as you love yourself. Jesus won’t ask you if you condemned or criticized or
justified or rallied for right. He is the only One who can convict and change a heart; He only
asks us to love others, all others, no questions asked. Today, go be a good neighbor.

Jesus loves you, and I do too!

Dr. Allison Key

Latest Article

Request a Home Visit