Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Love God, Love Your Neighbor

Among the many excellent Christian works on the moral imperative behind caring for the creation, the National Association of Evangelicals offers one of the most compelling. Here is a brief excerpt from their booklet, Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment.

In Matthew 22:39, Jesus gave us a “second” command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

For us to be faithful in loving God, we must love our neighbor. In Luke’s account of the same incident, a bystander asks, “But who is my neighbor?” thus setting the stage for one of the best-known of all Jesus’ parables: the story of the Good Samaritan. Loving my neighbor, according to the parable, includes responding to the needs of someone who has been hurt. We are to feed him, clothe him, care for his wounds and provide for him.

Care of the poor and oppressed is a resounding theme in both the Old and New Testaments, as, for example, in Deuteronomy 15:10-11:

”Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.”

God gave the Israelites structures and rules that established provision for the poor. Relatives were to redeem sold land and support widows; cloaks could not be kept in pledge; the poor could glean in the fields. We are told to care for those who are hungry and thirsty, even if they are our enemies (see Proverbs 25:21-22; Romans 12:20).

Free downloadable NAE booklet
Nothing could be clearer than Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:36-44. Jesus tells his disciples that on Judgment Day, we will stand before God and answer for the way we treated those who were hungry, naked and sick, and for those who were strangers and prisoners: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40). And, on the other hand, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (v. 45).

When we care for the poor, we are ministering to Jesus himself: To care for the weakest is to care for Christ.

There are millions of suffering people in the world, and thousands of Christians who offer them assistance. Unfortunately, the realities of climate change mean that those suffering millions may become billions. All of us who follow Jesus will need to respond.

Reproduced from National Association of Evangelicals: Loving the Least of These. To download a copy of the complete NAE document, click here.

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