Healthy, Growing Churches (8)
“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” Luke 19.36
Commentary on Matthew 2
Origen of Alexandria (185-254)
“Not only is the greatest commandment to love the Lord, but as well it is the first commandment. It is first, however, not in the order of the Scriptures but in the order of virtue. And as this comes from such a source, it must be adhered to, since as with many established commands, Christ says that it is the first and greatest command that ‘you love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole mind and your whole soul,’ and the second, however, ‘is like unto’ the first; and accordingly, this similitude is also great, ‘that you love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ This is how we understand the second one, while another may be third in magnitude and order, or a fourth, and so in order we number the commands of the law, accepting this as wisdom from God, who orders them even to the least.”
Who are neighbors to the needy people in your community? Who shelters the homeless? Counsels the troubled? Assists the poor? Tutors the slow of learning? Mentors the young? Visits the sick and those in prison? Are these not all people of need, like that beaten and robbed man on the Jericho road? In most communities, those who are neighbors to such people are either family, or some form of private or government agency: schools, hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters, food pantries, and so forth. Many churches participate in such programs locally, and well they should. But are we showing the love of Christ to our neighbors in need as fully and consistently as we might? And what about our neighbors on the job, in our neighborhood or school, or who serve us as we buy or sell? Do they not have needs? If only for a smile, a word of encouragement, or a listening ear? Churches that nurture their people to love their neighbors, and exert themselves as congregations on behalf of the needy – such churches are increasing in love, and thus growing and becoming mature in the Lord.
In what ways is your church neighbor to the needy in your community?
T. M. Moore
Healthy, Growing Churches
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Quotations from Church Fathers are from the Ancient Christian Commentary Series, published by InterVarsity Press.