Are You The Good Neighbor?
// Tim DeTellis
At the age of eleven, I moved to Haiti and lived in a remote village by the sea. While there, I learned a great deal about the value of community.
I remember walking to the shoreline and helping villagers pull in the fishing net. This process was a key source of food for Haitians—and it wasn’t possible without community.
No matter where you live, a strong community is essential for life. And yet, togetherness is quickly becoming an endangered idea. We often hide behind our garage doors and spend our time on back patios instead of front porches, away from our neighbors.
How important is being a good neighbor to Jesus? The more I turn the pages of the gospels, the more I see Jesus helping the hungry, the hurting, and the lost. He meets the needs of the human heart—whether He was talking with one woman at a well, or thousands of people on a hillside. Through these different examples, we see how much Jesus values being a good neighbor.
September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day. Becky Mattson of Lakeside, Montana, created this special day in 1977. And in 1978, then President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, issued Proclamation 4601: “As our nation struggles to build friendship among the peoples of this world, we are mindful that the noblest human concern is concern for others. Understanding, love, and respect build cohesive families and communities. The same bonds cement our nation and the nations of the world. For most of us, this sense of community is nurtured and expressed in our neighborhoods where we give each other an opportunity to share and feel part of a larger family… I call upon the people of the United States and interested groups and organizations to observe such a day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
Recently, I was outside walking my dogs Duke and Daisy. Across the street I saw a couple that had just finished visiting the construction site of their brand-new home. They were driving out of their driveway, but they shut off their truck and walked across the street to see my dogs. We had met before and began to talk. Just then, our neighbors Jorge and Marlene came up the street and joined us. Next, our neighbor Jill from around the corner drove by. She slowed, and rolled down her window to say hello before continuing on her way. The man who had been visiting his new home said, “I’m going to enjoy living here. You are all such kind neighbors. Why are you so kind to one another?” Jorge replied, “It’s because we’re all in a Bible study together.”
Consider the words found in Luke 10:29, “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” Jesus responded to this question by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. A man was left hurt, lonely, and hungry on the side of the road. Two people passed right by the man, but one person stopped to help him—the Good Samaritan. After telling the parable, Jesus asked this question in Luke 10:36-37, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” ~Tim DeTellis