I recently had to write an article for our neighborhood Network. Our theme for next year is “Love thy neighbor” There’s always lot’s of jokes made about that phrase, but I would like to break it down a bit. There are four words used in the bible for love: eros, storgé, philos and agape. Eros of course is where our word erotic comes from, storgé means affection and philos is “brotherly love” which leaves “agape.” I believe that the confusion comes in when we get mixed up with feeling and doing, we think that we have to like or even be affectionate to our neighbour and of course in the context of neighborhoods that just does not work. The thing is Agape is a verb, a doing word. Love in this context is something we do! Then love thy neighbour means doing something for him practically.
Let’s start with the “as thy self” bit, love thy neighbor as thy self. I mean, look how we look after ourselves. Look how we “do” for ourselves. I can’t imagine anyone doing for our real physical neighbour anything near what we do for ourselves, but we should be coming close to doing the same for the neighbours that live in our house – spouse, children and parent’s and siblings. We should be loving them by doing for them, laying down our lives for them as much as we do for ourselves.Back to the guy next door! I can’t imagine anyone offering up that kind of sacrifice for the next door neighbour. Although I know that Carol the chairlady of our Neighbourhood Network comes close. Well done Carol!
If we look at the list of practical love dos and don’t in Corinthians 13 it will give us some ideas of what we should be doing: Love is Patient, so when the dog’s bark a lot and we have been to tell them a few time, we should still tell them a few more time; patiently! (of course if we are the neighbour with the barking dogs………)
Love is kind; That could mean that we need to mow their roadside lawn for them or pick up there junk- mail when they are away for a few days. Love keeps no record of wrong. I suppose this would mean that the words; “not another noisy party” should ever come out of our mouths.Well I think you are to getting the idea. You apply the specific action to the love verb listed. Here are a few more; Love is kind, love is not envious, it’s not conceited or rude. The Amplified bible version gets into some interesting ideas here; “Love does not insist in its own way and is not self seeking. It is not touchy or fretful or resentful.” My goodness if we where all like that what a great neighbourhood we would have. I would love to live next to a neighbour like that! So I suppose we need to be a neighbour like that: If we each swept in front of our own door soon the whole street would be clean. Let’s take a look at just how we are relating to our neighbours whether it be the guy next door or anyone we encounter in our daily lives. Let us be that great loving person living next door! Let’s love our neighbour as ourselves!