So when you hear the “Golden Rule,” Do unto others or “Love your neighbor” in Leviticus 19:18 and Luke 10, and you ask “who is my neighbor?”
Leviticus 19:9-18 sure makes it look like our neighbors include the poor, sojourners (immigrants and aliens), workers (servants and employees), the handicapped, and both the lowly and the great.
Even non-Christians are at least somewhat familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan that Jesus taught inn Luke 10:25-37. So when the teacher of the law tests Jesus by asking “who IS my neighbor?” We should ask that too.
Think about who were the neighbors to whom Jesus Himself showed love in the New Testament?
Aliens, Sinners, Prostitutes, Tax Collectors, Gentiles, Jews, Romans, Pharisees, Sadducees, Lepers, the Poor, the Sick, Prisoners, the Oppressed, Hypocrites, even the Demon-Possessed, Samaritans, our ENEMIES, You and Me.
So today, who is my neighbor? Blacks, Latinos, legal and illegal immigrants, Syrian and Afghan, Iraqi and Iranian refugees? Policemen? LGBTQ? Our political opponents? Republicans? Democrats? White supremacists? Hypocrites? Bigots? Ex-Spouses? Bosses? Gun activists? Gun control activists? Women? Competitors & rivals? Strangers? Sinners? People who scare me? People who offend me? People who disagree with me?
Yes, yes, yes.
The “Law” whether Federal, State statutes, local and municipal codes or God’s Law & God’s Word is all about community, all of it is about working together for the betterment of others, not just ourselves. The “letter of the law” is about details, control, and judgement, but the “spirit of the law,” the WHY of it, the reason for it, is about LOVE. It is about being responsible for each other just as Jesus demonstrated for us.
That’s what I believe it means when people say that America was “based on Jewish and Christian principles” or “based on the Bible.” I don’t think that means that only wealthy White, Evangelical conservative fundamentalist Christians get power or control, I think that Leviticus 19 makes pretty clear that equal treatment and justice for ALL is part of God’s law. Seems to me that the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment are intended to do just that. The Spirit of both God’s law and secular civil law is not to protect God or to protect the power or privilege or control of certain “godly” people, it is to protect ALL people from the effects of sin and selfishness- to protect all of us from each other. It is a “social contract,” a covenant, a compact, a promise to treat each other with love rather than hate and selfishness or indifference.
All of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures come down to this; LOVE. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. God is love. Anyone who tells you otherwise either hasn’t read it, doesn’t get it, or is trying to mislead you.