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Whose Neighbor Am I?

By Gabriele Laub                                                                    
 
Recently I attended the North American Division Adventist Community Services Convention in Gladstone, Oregon, September 7-11, 2016, which was sponsored by the North Pacific Union. I would like to share some of the thought-provoking questions that our leadership challenged us with.
     
We are all familiar with the question ‘Who is my neighbor?’ which the expert in the law asked Jesus. He had kept all of the commandments but still wanted to know how he could inherit eternal life. However, Dr. Zack Plantack, professor of Religion at Loma Linda University, who led out in the daily devotions, raised the question ‘Whose neighbor am I?’ It seems a more challenging and confronting question…
     
We live in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. It’s not easy to determine the nature and extent of our mission. Are there rules as to who I should love? Who should I exclude? What is the limit of my responsibility?
     
And how should I be a neighbor? What difference can I make? How can I be a change agent? What do I need to advocate for? Are we leading servants or proud to be servant leaders?
     
Are we the church or do we just go to church? Are we the salt of the earth, sprinkled here and there, enhancing the quality of life in our communities - the lives of the rich, the middle class, the struggling, the disenchanted, or the marginalized?
     
The reasons why we as a church have a ministry of compassion are these:
     
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?” [Micah 6:8 AMP].
     
“Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice and maintain the rights of the afflicted and destitute.” [Psalm 82:3 AMP]
     
And regardless of whether we see results in this life or not, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for Me.’ [Matthew 25:40 AMP]
     
No matter what segment of society our mission focuses on, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.” [E.G. White, Ministry of Healing, pg. 143]

Regardless of the individual talents that God has endowed us with, when we hear God’s voice calling, let us answer with Isaiah, “Here I am, Send me.” [Isaiah 6:8 AMP]