Fortune Cookie Friday: Love Your Neighbor
I’m thrilled about the fortune that came up this week. Recent events show that hate can easily influence people. Stories of death threats, shootings, and attacks are all over the news. They fuel discussions that lead to even more divisiveness. But we are also influenced by love, and quotes like today’s fortune can have a positive impact.
Love is a powerful feeling, and it comes in many forms. Love is something we all greatly desire. Unfortunately, love entails us to give rather than receive.
Today’s fortune is a part of a longer quote by Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell.
Grenfell was a medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador. He gave his talents and time in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s to initially improve the plight of coastal inhabitants and fishermen, but the mission grew to later include developing schools, an orphanage, cooperatives, industrial work projects, and social work in the surrounding region.
After reading this quote, I started to wonder about my purpose in life. We are in the world for a reason, but why are we here? What is the secret to life? I giggled to myself as I thought about a movie that answered this very question.
In the 1991 comedy City Slickers, the Jack Palance character, Curly, gives the secret to Mitch (Billy Crystal). Curly holds up one finger and says, “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that, and the rest don’t mean s***.”
Now, I don’t necessarily take life and theological lessons from movies, but this scene had me thinking about a story in the Bible (Mark 12:28-34) where a scribe asks Jesus about the most important commandment. Jesus tells him to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then Jesus said the second most important commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. “There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The meaning of life is right there in Mark. “Love God; love your neighbor; nothing else matters,” happens to be my church’s mission statement. It sounds like a simple premise, but many people have a difficult time practicing it.
So, how do we go about following God’s most important commandments? We are supposed to love God, but it’s not like He’s walking around with us every day. Or is he? God is within the people we meet and us. The best way to show Him our love is by loving one another. The best way to that is by serving others.
Serving others doesn’t mean we have to perform grandiose acts for people like Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell’s mission. Being kind to one another, treating others with respect, and giving our time and talents are the easiest ways to show love to our neighbors.
And a neighbor isn’t just a person that lives next door or in the same town. They are anyone that shares the Earth with us. Our neighborhood is the world, and we might not agree with every neighbor that lives here. But remember that part in Mark about strength? We will need it to be kind to others that don’t agree with us or that may even harm us. It isn’t easy, but if we stick to it, nothing else matters.