We are commanded that those we come in contact with - and I believe specifically those with needs - are our neighbors. The enormity of that was made clear to me on a spring break mission trip to New York City while in college. On a brutally cold day with snow on the ground, some of us were tasked with serving lunch and distributing clothes at Hell's Kitchen. During the meal I met a "neighbor" named Ms. Sally. After lunch, I handed her a bag of clothes and went back to get a pair of gloves when she remarked that her hands always got cold.
Slipping the gloves onto her withered hands, the next seven words that she uttered are forever etched into my mind. "Thank you! Thank you! Are you Jesus?" The instant I heard those words, the parable of Luke 10 and the enormity of the Gospel flooded over me.
Are we always as concerned about the well-being of others as we should? Have we sensed the heartbreak that we should over lost souls? Have we followed the example that Christ set for us in the Gospels? Unfortunately, I can't always answer yes to these and I suspect that most of us cannot.
The simple act of retrieving a pair of gloves for my "neighbor" taught me a valuable lesson. As followers of Christ, we are called to extend ourselves to mankind, because Jesus first extended His arms on the cross to provide us with a gift that we undoubtedly don't deserve.
Knowing that this was the first (and probably last) time I would ever be mistaken for Jesus, I responded the only way a 21 year old college student knew to answer her question. "No Ms. Sally, but He's a friend of mine." May our neighbors see our friend Jesus exemplified in our lives.
By Rusty Haygood