Loving Thy Neighbor: Part 1

Posted by Capn Coconuts On Thursday, January 5, 2012 0 comments
Most people believe that Westboro Baptist Church hates just about everyone. On the other hand, WBC members believe that they show their love through picketing. Something doesn't add up here, and I hope I can address this anomaly.

Since we're going into some doctrinal things here, we'll need to get out our Bibles and walk through it with some valid hermeneutical practices.

The phrase "love thy neighbour" appears word for word in 8 verses in the King James Version. A ninth verse with the same message can be found by looking for the words but not the exact phrase. It first appears in Leviticus 19:18:
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
This means that the law of loving thy neighbour was present even in Mosaic times. Jesus supported keeping this commandment even in the New Testament. A particular mention of this commandment is right before the parable of the Good Samaritan, in Luke 10:25-37.
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. 
I don't have time for a 30-minute sermon on the Good Samaritan, but I'd like for us to think for a bit on the text. Note the following:
  1. A lawyer tempted him. This is not the only time this happened; the Pharisees and Sadducees tried multiple times to entangle the Lord in his talk. They always failed because Jesus is God.
  2. Jesus asked him what was in the law. The lawyer promptly responded by giving the two greatest commandments: Love thy God with everything, and love thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus responded that this was how he should obtain eternal life. Because Jesus is God, he'd have to display that love by accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior.
  3. The lawyer tried to justify himself. If there was no lack of this love in this life, he wouldn't need to justify himself. He did so by asking who is neighbor was.
  4. Jesus responded with a parable that basically rephrases the question to "Who am I neighbor to?"
The last point is especially important because if someone is our neighbor, we are neighbors to them. The priest and the Levite were definitely not good neighbors, as they showed no compassion on him. In contrast, the Samaritan does.

The Jews and Samaritans of the day hated each other. This is most evident in the book of John, where Jesus has a conversation with one Samaritan woman at a well. Samaritans were the impure descendants of the tribes of Israel taken into Assyrian captivity around 722 B.C. Israelite blood mingled with Assyrian and other non-Israelite blood, resulting in the Samaritan race. Because they were part-Gentile, the Jews hated them, and it seems that the Samaritans weren't too fond of the Jews either.

But the Good Samaritan was different. He showed compassion on the wounded Jew when he had no reason to have it, when the priest and Levite had every reason to have it. The Samaritan dropped what he was doing, bandaged the man's wounds, nourished him with oil and wine, set him upon his own beast, took him to an inn, and took care of him with his own money.

Compassion is a complex emotion of love and sorrow. It makes one want to work to help someone. It's what gets money to the Red Cross. It's what pays for the relief efforts in Japan, Haiti, and anywhere else disaster strikes.

The members of Westboro Baptist Church have no compassion. They have no love. They don't even know what it means to love their neighbor. They think that cussing and flaming and thanking God for dead soldiers is love.

I have far too much to say on this subject for one blog post, so I will conclude here with Matthew 25:41-45:
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 
Westboro Baptist Church doesn't love its neighbors. It hates them.


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