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Like a Good Neighbor
Written March 5, 2024


I was surprised to see Josh standing outside my door.  “Manny, old friend!” he exclaimed.  “How are you getting along?”

I replied that I was mostly healed from my injuries.

“Good, good,” said Josh.  “I haven't been down here for months, but when I heard you got robbed, I just had to come and see you!  Do you need any help paying your bills?”

I said that fortunately, the robbers hadn't been able to access my bank account.  My visitor wanted to hear the whole story, so I invited him in.

Josh had always wanted to be a preacher.  The first thing he suggested was to begin with a word from Scripture.  Myself, I don't open my Bible very often, and it took me a moment to remember where it was.

When I found it, the book fell open to the 19th chapter of Leviticus, and my eye fell on the 18th verse:  “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Amen,” said Josh.  “Notice that in that verse, God actually gives us two instructions.  First, we shouldn't take it on ourselves to punish others.  We shouldn't act like militant vigilantes.  ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.  Romans 12:19]  And second, we should love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.”

“We should love our neighbor,” I repeated.  “But who is my ‘neighbor’?”


“Personally, I can't stand the guy next door.  That loudmouth keeps criticizing everything and everybody.”

“Well, Manny, ‘neighbor’ can mean more than ‘the person who lives nearby.’  It can mean anyone who shares our world.”

“Even those immigrants from Sudan?  I don't consider them my neighbors.  They live way down on the other side of the railroad tracks, and we have nothing in common.”

Josh raised an eyebrow at this.  However, all he said was, “Tell me how you got robbed.”

“All right.  One evening last week, I was driving down to Jerome when these two masked men forced me off the road.  They grabbed me and demanded money.  I told them my wallet was in my pants, and they stripped off my pants!  Then they beat me up and threw me into the ditch.  They drove off in my pickup.”

“Did you try to run after them?”

“I couldn't.  I was badly hurt and I just lay there, half dead.  But I could see cars passing on the road, and I waved for somebody to stop to help me.”

“Of course.”

“When the first car came by, I could see that the driver was Father Andrew.  He's the priest at that church a couple of blocks from here.  But he pretended not to notice the half-naked man lying in the ditch.”

“He drove on by?”

“So did the next driver, Levi.  His house is a block away in the other direction.  I think he saw me, but I suppose he had better things to do than stop and help.  He was probably late for choir practice.”

“So no one wanted to be bothered with you, Manny.”

“But then one car did pull over and stop.  When the driver got out, I saw it was a black man, and he looked familiar.  Later he told me that his name was Sam, and then I remembered.  Of course, he lives on the wrong side of the tracks, and I'd heard that he got banished from his church last year.”

“Why was that?”

“Sam confessed that he's gay, and his congregation didn't want to be associated with anyone who refuses to obey the Bible.”

“Oh.  But shouldn't we try to be a friend to everyone, even those whose lifestyle we don't like?  It isn't the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  Luke 5:31]

“I prefer to keep my distance from the gays.  But Sam didn't shy away from me.  He got down in the ditch and lifted me up and carried me to his car.  I felt uncomfortable being in the arms of a homosexual, let alone one who's black, but I was in too much pain to object.  My head wound was killing me.  Thankfully, Sam was prepared for any emergency.  He got out a first-aid kit and bandaged me up.  Then he drove me to a nearby hotel, carried me to a room, and took care of me.”

“How considerate of him!”

“And generous, too.  The next morning, he went down to the desk clerk and gave him $200 for the room.  He told the clerk, ‘Look after him, and when I return, I'll reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”

“All right; let's review,” said Josh.  “After you were robbed and left lying in the ditch, three people came along.  There was Father Andrew who's a priest.  There was Levi who sings in the choir.  And there was Sam from the other side of the tracks, the immigrant who's been kicked out of his church.”

“That's right.”

“Which one loved you like a neighbor?”

“Um, I suppose it was one who dealt kindly with me.”

“And you should go and do likewise.”

(a retelling of Luke 10:25-37)

Click here for other Bible stories I've retold in the first person.


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