Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

When I went to college, my friend, Eliza gave me one of the greatest pieces of advice that I ever received. She said, “When you meet a new person, ask God what role you are supposed to play in each other’s lives.”

So simple.

It revolutionized the way I view relationships. While I had grown up being taught that I should label people as “Christian” or “NonChristian” and stick them into neat little boxes in my life, once I got this advice, I was set free from that. I no longer spend all of my time judging people and trying to figure out their religious beliefs or lack thereof. I spend my time getting to know them and love them, instead.

This week, a friend and I were reading Luke 10 together. In the latter part of that chapter, a religious scholar asks Jesus, “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” And Jesus responds that he should love God with everything in him and that he should love his neighbor as much as he does himself. Jesus goes on to define “neighbor” by telling the story that many of us know as the story of the Good Samaritan…

One day, a man is traveling on a lonesome road when he’s accosted by robbers. He’s beaten and left to die. As he lies there, bleeding and dying, two religious men come upon him, but each chooses to ignore him and keep walking. Finally, a man of a different religion sees him and even knowing that they espouse different religious beliefs, he picks him up, cares for him, and takes him to get help.

This is the heart of God.

I’ve been in the church my entire life. I love God and I believe in the necessity of the church. And I see the church doing so much good and sharing so much love with the world. But sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, there are people who call themselves God’s people, who attend His church, who are more interested in judging the wounded man than in caring for him. Before they help him, they want to make sure that he’s not an alcoholic, that he doesn’t have a criminal record, that he isn’t gay, that he doesn’t come from the wrong family or the wrong side of the tracks and that he’s going to be able to pay his tithes in full and on time. And by the time they finish judging him, he’s already died of his wounds.

In this world, we are always going to be surrounded by people who are different than we are. We fear these differences—especially the ones we don’t understand or haven’t experienced before. Instead of judging people and holding them at arm’s length, we have the great opportunity to not judge them. We can choose to see the good in them and to learn about the differences that we so fear. This is where trust is built and love is shared. And this is where lives are changed… sometimes, mine.

About Sarah Salter


  1. Now you KNOW that I love this! 🙂

  2. You raised some interesting points there “Sista Sarah”.. While I do agree with you I often wonder how all of this fits into some “family” situations… Its a tough one for sure.. As always the teacher in you makes me think…

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, Mary! 🙂

    Barbara, “making you think.” That’s my job. 😉

  4. Kerri (Earringopia) says:

    I particularly like that you based your blog on the book of Luke. Luke is my favorite of the gospels because he looks at things through the eyes of a healer (he was a physician) with a great deal of tenderness at those he observes in everyday life and those who come to him for help. I’m sure he had his judgmental times (don’t we all), but I also suspect his training as a physician and his belief in Jesus gave him the framework to work daily at being less judgmental. In fact, I’m sure he had to work at it daily because I know I have to, and somedays I have to almost wrestle it to the ground if I’m feeling a little pugnacious and holier than thou. And at other times I just have to let the “judgmentalism” wash over me and live with it for a bit before I get what it is I’m being taught. Mostly what I have received from your blog is that Jesus will walk through the thickets of judgment with us and bring us out on the other side with the right attitude and lessons learned if we let him. Bless every person alive who is fighting the good fight against being judgmental and allowing themselves to be open to the world at large.

  5. Well I just love your postings! Just plain love them!

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Kerri, thank you! That’s so awesome! I know we all struggle with judgmentalism. Working for the church and being so closely involved with the church all of the time, I often struggle to not judge the church folks. But it still happens and I still have to confess it and ask forgiveness and sometimes, go to people and make things right. But my hope is that each day, I will walk more in love and forgiveness and less in judgment. Thanks again for sharing!

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Nancy, Thank you! I just love YOU, my friend! ((HUGS))

  8. Kari Norman says:

    We’ve already discussed this, but I’m so thankful for the reminder. I find that I still struggle to NOT judge, but to be open. Some relationships have left a sour taste in my mouth. Hard as I try, I find myself still making judgements, sometimes unfair, with regard to certain people. Oh how I strive to stop that. I’m thankful for our morning fellowship and the reminders that God places in our paths each day. I’m grateful the He doesn’t judge me, based upon my mistakes or hidden pain or self-doubt. I’m blessed by His love and faith in me, each and every day, and I strive to return that love and faith, each and every day. Thank you for, once again, for sharing that love and faith with us.

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Kari, I know what you mean… Once we’ve experienced a bad thing, it’s hard to get past it. For me, one example could be how when I was 18, I had two young Hispanic men attempt to snatch me through their car window at a convenience store. I managed to get away, but they followed me. It was a terrifying experience and for a time, I was scared of all Hispanic men. But God got me past it to the point that I minored in Spanish in college and now, am able to even travel to Hispanic countries, without fear. If I had allowed myself to wallow in that fear, I wouldn’t be able to help the people that I’ve been able to help. Granted, I’m not always this victorious… But I’m working on it. And I’m grateful that in this area, at least, I’ve found peace.

  10. ask God what role you are supposed to play in each other’s lives

    a very good practice…
    i will try to remember this.

  11. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Nance! I’ve missed you around here! 🙂

  12. Amen!

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