Love Your Neighbor. Really.

by Rachel Mullen

After a few days, Jesus went back to Capernaum, and people heard that he was at home. So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them. Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed. They couldn’t carry him through the crowd, so they tore off part of the roof above where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”

Some legal experts were sitting there, muttering among themselves, “Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins.”

Jesus immediately recognized what they were discussing, and he said to them, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? Which is easier—to say to a paralyzed person, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk’? 10 But so you will know that the Human One has authority on the earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, 11 “Get up, take your mat, and go home.”

12 Jesus raised him up, and right away he picked up his mat and walked out in front of everybody. They were all amazed and praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!” --Mark 2:1-12

After reading this Scripture, I started thinking about my neighbors. Not my friends who live in the same city or my community in general, but the people who live in the homes adjacent to mine, my immediate neighbors. They’ve changed over the years, and we’re all friendly enough. Our kids play together, and our dogs bark at each other. We aren’t social outside of our small plots, but we get along.

When I read this passage in Mark, I thought of the families that live on either side of me. I wondered if my neighbors would be willing to carry me on a stretcher somewhere, rip the roof off a house, and lower me down into it. I mean, that’s asking a lot of my husband or close family; could I ask that of someone whose last name I don’t know? Would I do the same for them?

These verses don't elaborate on the relationship of the four people carrying the mat and the paralyzed man. They might have been friends, neighbors, or family. The important thing is they were full of love and mighty faith. They knew that someone near to them needed help, and they knew that Jesus Christ was the one to help him. They were going to do whatever it took to get the paralyzed man the help he needed, even if it meant ripping up someone’s roof.

I look at my neighbors differently now than I did before reading this. I want to talk to them about their lives. I want to learn their last names. I want to know where I can help and how I can be a better neighbor. I want to grow love for them, and I want them to grow love for me in return.

1. What is your relationship like with your immediate neighbors?

2. Who in your life is in need of healing? How can you be a good friend or neighbor to them in their time of need?

3. In what ways can you become a better neighbor to those around you this week?

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