There’s a lot in the news about testing for coronavirus. This is my fourth in a series of other “coronavirus tests” – for Christians.
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
The command to love our neighbours is central to the Old Testament Law, second only to the command to love God. It is repeated clearly in several places in the New Testament as a core duty of the Christian life.
There are many ways we can love our neighbours in the current situation. We can love all the neighbours in our society by doing what we can to help prevent the spread of the disease. When we take risks, we are not just risking our own health and life, but that of others we may come into contact with, and those that they may come into contact with. This also can have a “ripple” effect as it places greater burdens on the medical services, potentially costing the lives of others.
Loving our neighbours in this way can go beyond just being careful. We can check with our neighbours, when we have to go to the shop, to see if they need anything. By doing so, perhaps we save them from taking an extra trip, and perhaps being exposed to the virus.
There are many other small things we may be able to do to love our neighbours. Two days ago, our entire street sang “Happy Birthday” to twins that were confined at home by the current restrictions. It cost us nothing, but it brightened their day.
Of course, the ultimate way to love our neighbours is to let them see the hope we have and to point them to the Source of that hope. That may not often be possible but we should always be ready to do so.
It’s going to be hard to love your neighbours if you don’t have any contact or communication with them. If you live your life on your own and never do anything to reach out to your neighbours, you are going to struggle to pass this test. It may force you to move outside of your comfort zone — but someday, you’ll give account before the Lord. I don’t think any of us who love Him really want to have to say, “Well, I didn’t do it because I wasn’t comfortable!”
The Cross wasn’t comfortable, either. The One who died there for us didn’t come to earth to be comfortable, and He’s the One who calls us to love our neighbours. Maybe it’s a hard test to pass but there’s no real reason we can’t, or shouldn’t, make a real effort to be the kind of neighbour He wants us to be.