Gordon-Conwell Blog

Racial Reconciliation Series: How do we Learn to Love our Neighbor?

November 09, 2017

As part of the release of fall 2017 edition of Contact Magazine, the Office Hours Faculty Blog is proud to present a 6-week series on racial reconciliation featuring articles written by experts, scholars and ministry leaders from Gordon-Conwell. The weekly release each Friday and will include articles A Conversation with Dr. Emmett G. Price III, Beyond Colorblind, Ministering to Families in the Urban Context, How Do We Learn to Love Our Neighbor, Racial Reconciliation: My Personal Experience and Can We All Get Along.


How do we Learn to Love our Neighbor?

Quonekuia Day, M.Phil./Ph.D. (cand.)

How Do We Learn to Love our Neighbor?” For some, this question may conjure up memories of the parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable is told in response to a lawyer’s question to Jesus on how he might receive eternal life.

Jesus initially tells the lawyer to follow the first two commandments of the Law: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. However, this answer is not sufficient for the lawyer, who further presses Jesus to identify the neighbor. This inquiry leads Jesus to present the parable of the Good Samaritan.

In the parable, a man is injured, robbed and left helpless. Three men identified as a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan have an opportunity to aid the injured man. But it is only the Samaritan who intervenes to change the injured man’s condition. The priest and the Levi recognize the injured man but do not intervene to change his fate. At the conclusion of the parable Jesus asks the lawyer to identify the neighbor of the injured man, to which he responds by indicating that he was the Samaritan.

Perhaps one of the more notable moments of the Good Samaritan story is when each person sees the injured man. The priest sees the injured man and continues with his journey. The Levi sees the injured man and continues with his journey. But when the Samaritan sees the injured man, he is moved with compassion—splagcnizomai. He stops his journey and acts to change the fate of the injured man. The compassion he feels prompts him to intervene on the behalf of the man.

The Greek word splagcnizomai, translated as “compassion,” is the same word used to describe Jesus’ feelings in Matthew 14:14 as he looked upon the large crowd of followers. He lamented that they had no shepherd and he healed the sick and miraculously fed them after multiplying two fishes and five loaves of bread. In Luke 7:13, the scripture details that Jesus felt compassion—splagcnizomai— for the mother whose son had died, and then he raised the son from the dead. The compassion—splagcnizomai—experienced by the Samaritan and by Jesus leads them each to act to change the circumstances of the injured and the helpless.

Our question is “How to Learn to Love our Neighbor?” Learning to love our neighbor begins with following the example of Jesus Christ and the Good Samaritan—that when we see our neighbor in a helpless, injured condition, we feel compassion to act. It is not enough for us to simply recognize his or her condition as pitiful or a sorrowful state.

The homeless, abused, oppressed and neglected require more than recognition that their state in life is sorrowful. In order for their condition to improve, they will need more Christians to feel and experience something so strong that it interrupts their life, stops their journey and causes action on behalf of the injured. The Christian will have to be moved by compassion—splagcnizomai.
 

Prof. Quonekuia Day, Instructor in Old Testament, joined the Gordon-Conwell faculty full-time in 2009 after serving as Coordinator of Student Advisement and Mentored Ministry for the Boston campus, and as an adjunct professor. She also taught for Vision New England at her church, Greater Love Tabernacle in Roxbury, MA, and the Southern New England Church of God Ministerial Internship Program. A licensed clinical social worker, she has served at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and Dimock Community Health Center, all in Boston. She has also co-facilitated a substance abuse support group. She is an Ordained Minister with the Church of God, Cleveland in Tennessee.

 

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