Loving Your Neighbor in the Midst of a Pandemic 

Loving Your Neighbor in the Midst of a Pandemic 

The COVID-19 crisis provides a unique opportunity for our church to be Christ’s witnesses to Western New York. As Christ’s disciples, our calling to the lost around us is two-fold: proclaim the gospel with our lips and practice good works of service and love. Evangelism and neighbor-love go together, and like two-sides of a coin, they shouldn’t be separated. This present crisis is a time for us to be good neighbors and meet other’s needs in Jesus’ name. 

Buffalo has often been called the “City of Good Neighbors.” But what does it actually mean to be a good neighbor? In Luke 10:25-29, we read: 

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 

This expert in the Jewish law (or lawyer)i asks Jesus “who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers by telling a story about a man in great need (verses 30-37). While traveling, this man was attacked by robbers, beaten, and left for dead. A priest and a Levite, who were a part of the religious community, walked by the man and ignored him. But a Samaritan came and cared for the man and provided for his needs at great cost to himself. Jews and Samaritans despised each other, so the fact that a Samaritan helped, and not a priest or Levite, was a shocking statement. Jesus then asked the lawyer “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (36) Two important things have been pointed out by teachers of the Bible about this parable. First, the primary point of this parable was to expose to the lawyer that he needed a Savior, which was the only way the lawyer could “inherit eternal life.”ii Second, this parable teaches us what it looks like to love our fellow man. True love is sacrificial and meets the needs of others. This lawyer asked Jesus the wrong question. He asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?” Better questions to ask are “whose neighbor am I?” and “what kind of neighbor should I be?”iii 

As Jesus taught, we were created to love God and others. And like the lawyer, we all have fallen short of this. Sin is the result of our failure to love God and neighbor. God, however, acted on our behalf in sending His Son. As our Savior, Jesus lived the life we couldn’t and died the death we deserve. He lived a perfect life of love to both God and others. And through His death and resurrection we are now forgiven and delivered from sin and its effects. In Jesus – we are free - free to pursue love for God and others. In fact, God may even use our acts of love to draw others to Himself.  

So, in the midst of a pandemic and a quarantine lifestyle, what kind of neighbors should we be? What does neighbor-love practically look like? Some ideas are: 

  • First, obey the quarantine orders placed over us. They are intended for the well-being of the community, and abiding by them shows that we take genuine concern for others and their health. It also shows that we take concern for the economic well-being of others, as abiding by these orders will aid in people being able to go back to their place of business sooner. 

  • Support local restaurants. Order take-out, and frequent the same place. By doing so, you can begin to build relationship with the owner or workers of that restaurant and show them continual support. Once restrictions are lifted, a relationship is established that you can continue to pursue for the sake of the gospel. 

  • Find realistic and practical ways to engage with your neighbors. Mail them a note (we have one you can use from our webpage) or card introducing yourself (if necessary), and let them know that you are available in case they need help. Provide your contact info. Keep in mind that you can’t meet every need, but should be committed to meeting needs as able and appropriate. 

  • Connect with apps such as Nextdoor. These apps allow you to connect with individuals in your neighborhood and zip-code, and they are great ways to engage others while distancing yourself. These apps keep you aware of the needs of others that live near you. 

  • If you know people who have a higher likelihood of experiencing loneliness during a quarantine (singles, shut-ins, widows), reach out to them through a phone-call or something like FaceTime. Just your presence (even if it’s through technology) can mean the world to them. 

  • Consider young families with children. Many parents have to now juggle working from home and taking care of the children. If the parents lost their jobs, they also have an unexpected financial stress to deal with. Consider writing them a card, calling them to pray with them over the phone and ask how they are doing, or even do something fun like have a pizza delivered to their home to supply a meal for them. Consider ways you can bless them. 

  • Consider non-profit organizations in our community. Many organizations are seeking to meet the needs of others in this time. Consider if there are ways you can help them.  

  • Continuing to be a faithful and active participant in the local church. As a church, we are seeking to love others through endeavors like the Armor Project, so staying alert to future instructions and announcements for this project will help us to continue to work together as a local church to bless others.  

  • Consider the elderly and immune-compromised. They may not be able to leave their homes during this time. We can reach out to them and offer to pick up groceries for them or something else they may need. Let’s make sure to take in consideration their need for social distancing and good hygiene practices (washing hands before touching their doorknob, wearing gloves, etc). 

  • Consider those who work on the front lines. If you know EMT’s or healthcare professionals who are working long hours and directly with those suffering from COVID-19, write them an email, text, or note of encouragement and thank them for their service. They need our support right now. 

Think about the people that surround you in your family and friendships, your neighborhood, and your workplace. How can you be a good neighbor to them? May we be known by our love!  

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