Meridian Star

January 18, 2014

From the Shepherd’s Heart

By Dr. John A. Temple / guest columnist
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     “And behold a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he wanting to justify himself said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” — Luke 10:25-29

“Who is my neighbor?” Most don’t really know the people that live next door. What is their name? Where do they work? What is their background? What are their needs? Will they be friendly? A thousand questions, when answered, make them a real person.

    Our world seems to be a hostile environment. When I was young, everyone would wave when they met another car. One day, I waved at a car and my wife asked who the driver might be. I had to admit, I didn’t know them, but I had been trained to be friendly.

    At Mississippi State, there was a bus stop at the five points where students could “hitch-hike” to home for the weekend. If a student waited a few minutes, some stranger would give them a ride. Today, giving a stranger a ride seems outrageous!

    Now, we stand in line with others without even making eye contact. If someone were to offer to help load groceries in the parking lot, we would be fearful of their intentions. We live in proximity to others without knowing their names or much else about them. If they leave us alone, we will leave them alone, too

    In order to have a neighbor, you must be one. A recluse may live in a subdivision yet be alone in the world. Being neighborly is more than living next door. To be neighborly, we must care about others and relate to them.

    Yet, everyday, we drive by without stopping. We may wave but that is as far as it goes. We wonder why more of our neighbors don’t go to church, but we must also admit we haven’t tried to meet them and make friends with them either.

    The question, “Who is my neighbor?” is asked in the context of having eternal life. Jesus tells the story of the “Good Samaritan” to say the neighbor is the one who stops and cares. In other words, if we are saved, we stop and care.

    How good of a neighbor are you? Have you stopped to care? Have you stopped to share what is happening in your life? God wants to speak through your friendliness. Why not allow the Lord a chance to touch someone through you?  

     Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www.