Archives for posts with tag: neighbor

Last week I write about my recent visit to Cuba and my plans to return in October (you are welcome to join me). I spoke of the enjoyment of the experience and mentioned a few of the places we visited.

I could expand on the sites and people. There is much that could be said about the economic condition of the island nation just 90 miles from the United States. The pros and cons of the U.S. embargo could easily provide fodder for a long political discussion. I could compare and contrast the economies and governments of the two countries.

Instead, I want to share something which spoke to me about poverty and wealth and transcends the understanding of these two particular cultures.

image of worship - priest and worship at the catholic altar - JPG

On Sunday morning group leaders on the ship provided worship experiences for both Protestants and Catholics. Although attendance was voluntary, I am glad that I went. While Father Damien celebrated mass with the Catholics on board the ship, Rev. Bob Brown, one of the Protestant ministers, led a worship service in which we were introduced to a new song.

Cuando el Pobre (When the Poor Ones) is a Latin American hymn from 1971 written by J. A. Olivar and Miguel Manzano.  The English translation is by George Lockwood.

Bible

The hymn is a meditation on Matthew 25: 31-46, the parable of the great judgment, focusing on verses 34-36: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (NIV).

The United Methodist Hymnal editor Carlton Young notes: “The central teaching (of the hymn) is the classic liberation motif that God in Christ is seen and experienced in the plight of the rejected of society: the homeless, the poor, and the parentless. In life’s journey, we are closer to God when we love them and share from our abundance of food, clothing, and shelter. Those who choose the alternative—greed, hate, and war—will ‘go away into eternal punishment’” (Matthew 25:46a).

CUANDO EL POBRE (UMH #434)

When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers,

When the thirsty water give unto us all,

When the crippled in their weakness strengthen others,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When at last all those who suffer find their comfort,

When they hope though even hope seems hopelessness,

When we love though hate at times seems all around us,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When our joy fills up our cup to overflowing,

When our lips can speak no words other than true,

When we know that love for simple things is better,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When our homes are filled with goodness in abundance,

When we learn how to make peace instead of war,

When each stranger that we meet is called a neighbor,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

 
Jamie Jenkins

 

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Toby Keith, country music singer/song writer, reveals the philosophy of life for many people in one of his hits. The song. I Wanna Talk About Me, was his seventh Number One single. The opening lyrics are

We talk about your work how your boss is a jerk
We talk about your church and your head when it hurts
We talk about the troubles you’ve been having with your brother
About your daddy and your mother and your crazy ex-lover
We talk about your friends and the places that you’ve been
We talk about your skin and the dimples on your chin
The polish on your toes and the run in your hose
And God knows we’re gonna talk about your clothes
You know talking about you makes me smile
But every once in awhile

I want to talk about me
Want to talk about I
Want to talk about number one
Oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see
I like talking about you, you, you, you usually, but occasionally
I want to talk about me

For many people life is “all about me.” The philosophy of Selfism insists that love of self is the greatest love of all. Therefore a person’s self interests trumps everything else. This is one of many faulty philosophies upon which people build their lives.

One day when Jesus was responding to questions a lawyer asks, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  What is the organizing principle around which to order my life?

Jesus answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” He was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, the basic tenet of Judaism. Every Hebrew child is taught this from earliest childhood. Every devout Jew recites it twice every day.

This is the basic and first commandment of Jesus and of God and of life. We are to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and spiritual emotions, with all the strength and vitality of our inner lives, and with all our brains and human brilliance.

Jesus continued by quoting Leviticus 19:18 saying, “A second commandment is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, Jesus suggests that we are to love our neighbor as deeply as we look out for our own welfare. To value others as much as we value ourselves. To focus on the needs of our neighbor as much as we focus on our own needs.

lovinggod

Jesus combines the two laws into one moral law. Neither law was to stand on its own; This is similar to Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Remember the Golden Rule? (Matthew 7:12) “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.”

To love the Lord your God with all the energy you have and to love your neighbor as yourself is at the core of Jesus’ teaching. The cross of Christ, the most important symbol of the Christian faith, has two dimensions: a vertical love to God and a horizontal love towards our neighbors.

love-others

Jesus said all the law and the prophets hang on these two basic interconnected commandments. It is as if Jesus said, “This is all Scripture in a nutshell; the whole law of human duty in a portable, pocket form.”Indeed, it is so simple that a child may understand it, so brief that all may remember it, so comprehensive as to embrace all possible cases. And from its very nature it is unchangeable. It is inconceivable that God should require from his rational creatures anything less, or in substance anything else… (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown)

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We are called to love not only those who are like us or those who “like” us. Love for neighbor is not hormonal or simply emotional. It has to be intentional and will seldom leave you in a state of ecstasy.

 

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We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (I John 4:16,20,21)

Love of God and love of neighbor is more than a statement for a bumper sticker. They are not abstract concepts and cannot be separated. They are the principle on which a person can organize their life.

Jamie Jenkins