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COMMISIONED by CHRIST 4 SHARING HIS LIFE/KEEPING IT REAL ADMIST THE LIES (II Cor. 5:17-21))

More than Living “Next Door”: What does it mean to be a Neighbor?

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 29, 2010

For anyone concerned,

 

 

 

 

I was writing this due to how it has been on my mind of late that very often we’re concerned with being a neighbor to others so long as its a neighbor we approve of…and in our mind, meets our standard of what a neighbor means.

Yeshua, who loved the Torah, also made clear that being focused on trying to keep all the commandments perfectly does not mean anything if its seperated from a heart of love for one’s neighbor.

I’m reminded of what Christ noted with the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-35 when it came to what really mattered.


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?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
(Luke 10:25-37)

 

Its interesting to see how much of a difference was made when considering  the issue of cleanliness and how in the above story the “righteous” avoided aiding a half-dead man, actually passeing by on the other side of the road. As they were in positions of Priest and Levite, it would be natural to considered the man who lay dying on the side of the road to be unclean…and their avoidance of touching him/going to the other side of the road to avoid any possible contact with him indicates that they were more concerned for their own “clean-ness” than they were for the very life of the man. Thee priests were indeed to become “defiled” by touching a dead body/blood itself and the wounded ( Numbers 19:10-12 Numbers 19 /Haggai 2:12-14 Haggai 2 , Leviticus 15:18-20 Leviticus 15 )—even though they could go through ritual purification. The status of remaining “clean” at all times was more important to them them getting “down” temporarily for the sake of embracing the greater priority of LOVE/aiding those who were hurting…

And at that point, it didn’t matter what one’s “distinctives” were as much as whether or not they had the heart of God.

That’s why I think it’s interesting that the hero of the story was one whom in the minds of the Jews would have been considered as not keeping “Torah” well enough anyhow. At the time Samaritans were frowned on and discriminated against by pure-blood Jews, not even considered second-class citizens but as dogs begging for crumbs. …

Concerning Samaritans, as to why they were so despised, there was a deep hatred that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews saw themselves as pure descendents of Abraham, while the Samaritans were a mixed race produced when THE Jews from the northern kingdom intermarried with other peoples imported from other nations by the King of Assyria after the exile in order to keep peace (II Kings 17:24). The Jews in the southern kingdom considered Samaratins to be “IMPURE”RACIALLY/refused to recieve help from, even during the rebuilding/return from EXILE. Thus the pure Jews hated this mixed race because they felt that their fellow Jews who had intermarried had betrayed their people/nation…….and the Samaratins had set up an alternate center for worship on Mount Gerizim to parallel the temple at Jerusalem, but it had been destroyed 150 YEARS earlie ( II Kings 17/, Ezra 4 , Nehemiah 2 , Nehemiah 4, etc).

As time went on, relations between the 2 groups got progressively worse, even into Jesus’s day..and hence, the reason why Jesus chose to have a Samaritan be the hero of his parable, as he would have been the person least suspected by a Jew to be worthy/capable of anything, Luke 10:27 )…..and moreover, the reason why JESUS HIMSELF WAS INTENTIONAL ABOUT MINISTERING TO Samaritans….like Jesus when he interacted with others like the Samaritan Woman (John 4 )—and going places that were often “forbidden” as with Samaritan territory ( Luke 9:51-53 / Luke 9 ). Similar actions got Jesus in trouble when it seemed he “broke the rules” on differing occassions and went against the “distinctives” of others who felt He was out of line. For he was often denounced by the Pharisees for what they thought were “Violations of the Law”/”Injustice”..and yet He was simply trying to do the job THEY were supposed to be doing anyway. That included situations such as the synagouge rulers tripping over Jesus healing on the Sabbath, in Luke 13:15-17 Luke 13 ….or the teachers of the law (alongside the Pharisees—who were more so popular among the people) tripping over Christ healing a man with a shriveled hand ( Luke 6:8-10 / Luke 6 ), the man with dropsy ( Luke 14:1-3 /Luke 14 ) and many others…..all examples/instances of the Lord seeking to be about the Lords buisiness in spreading His love and having others frustrated with that since in many cases they felt it was not supposed to be that simple..or easy.

Something else that’s interesting to consider, concerning the essentials Jesus noted often..

Luke 10:25-35.
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?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
(Luke 10:25-37)

The “righteous” avoided aiding a half-dead man, actually passeing by on the other side of the road. Intriguing is the fact that THE ones striving to keep the “law” were each were more concerned with their “temple duties” with others…for if it had been a fellow priest on the road, the outcome would have been different. The responses of the priest—and, for that matter, the Levite–are truly some of the highlights of the story…..specifically as it relates to the implications for us since we in Christ have been made into priests ourselves/in many ways are as they were, ( 1 Peter 2:8-10 1 Peter 2).

With the parable of Luke 10:25-35/Luke 10:24-26 Luke 10 with the Good Samaritan, its also intriguing to consider the man who was left for half-dead. Generally, when people read it, they assume the man was a helpless innocent who didn’t “deserve” it. However, does anyone ever ask when it comes to the MAN that was helped by the Good Samaratan whether or not the man beaten on the road was a BAD MAN–or what his character was like? What if the man when he was in good shape would’ve probably been one who would’ve harmed the Samaritan himself if he saw him?

What if the robbers who came to him were trying to take him out because they owned him money–with him coming to kill them and they getting to him first because they knew how wild the brother was (as many are today)? Or, what if the man who got beat up took some money from the robbers for a bad business deal (i.e. his family desperately needed some money, so they “loaned” it to him for a favor later—to which the man refused when seeing what it was they’d ask of him)…and in failing to pay them back…or refusing to back down when they threatened to expose him, they took him out?

All of that is speculation of course. But the text doesn’t say one thing about the man’s mindset character—as it could have been anything….but most seem to automatically lean toward seeing the beat up dude as more “helpless/innocent” than warranted because naturally we want to help “good people”—-“clean” people, for another expression…rather than being open to being responsible for the bad/”*****” ones as well.

And what the scripture makes makes clear is that the man’s character was NOT a factor in whether or not responsibility was to be discussed. What mattered is that—-good or bad—your neighbor is anyone in need…….even if it’s enemies, whether it be Osama Ben Ladin…the PERSON convicted of Child Rape months ago…or your Co-Worker who gets on yo last nerve. What’s always of importance is the issue of who it is that is in need of HELP….and whether or not there’s someone who’ll show enough love to give it.

For a personal testimony, I did extensive work last year at a Urban Ministry in Atlanta known as “City of Refuge–Bringing Hope to those who Live on the Margin” —and for more info, one can go online and look up an article entitled Bruce Deel – 180 Degrees on Compassion | :: TheOoze.TV :: Emerging Church Video Podcast… “ ( ). The ministry of “City of Refuge, Inc” is truly one of the greatest around EVER…..and it was such a joy being able to work there extensively with the kids, in the “180 Degrees” kitchen (where they taught others how to cook in a professional culinary program) and were very much for pouring out into the community….and amazing seeing the myriad of people we’d have to deal with on the block—from single mothers to prostitutes to drug-dealers/many various shades of “homeless” people and others in wild lifestyles.

Got to actually pray for/witness to a person hooked on crack on Valentines’s Day….with him being amazed that God would even consider loving him. The places many lived—from the projects invested with garbage/rats to having homes where the conditions were often unsanitary to the streets, for those homeless—to the food they ate that was often non-healthy, you saw people in REAL LIFE.

And yet LOVE made the difference. Eating what was given out of respect/concern….talking to them/hanging out. The amount of stories I’d hear from those who used to be hopeless on the streets and in the realm of being qualified by others as “not deserving of aid/help” and how someone looked past the flaws and showed compassion on them in such a way that they truly saw the love/mercy of Christ and it made the difference in them being solid disciples/aiding others today.

Many times, however, they’re ignored because they’re not apart of the “in-crowd…and often, aiding them is circumvented with other “godly responsibilities” we try to come up with. I’ve seen the same thing in myself often….as many times, I would rather read a good book then go around the corner and hang out at a neighbors watching a football game. Honestly, there are many times I would rather spend my time memorizing scripture then hanging out at the neighborhood block party establishing relationships and putting what I had read into practice…and thinking of myself as “good” because of it. Some would take it further in acting as if focusing on aiding others could only happen if they agreed with the camp you belonged to

But I digress….

Nothhing really matters whenever we lose sight of what Jesus said mattered in being a neighbor to another and disciples…

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:7-9 / Micah 6

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 2:20

Faith and Deeds

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Ultimately, what matters is whether or not we love one another—and love truly does cover a multitude of sins/faults.

For a good video on the issue (as its concerning my side of the street in Urban communities), here’s a poem to consider:


Additionally, for a another instructional song on the issue, here’s something from one of the Messianic Jewish groups I’ve greatly enjoyed following..known as Hazakim.

Also, on a side note, I wanted to bring up the issue of how being a good neighbor in showing love goes beyond simple issues of charity and being in the trenches with others. For it can also involve addressing issues of justice that affect those around us.

I’m reminded of how often others say that feeding the poor and taking care of orphans is truly an act of real love for your neighbor…and yet, they’ll say that you’re foolish if you are concerned for your neighbor’s environment. It should be noted (IMHO) that  winning souls in the time we’re here on this Earth for the age to come is what the Lord has called us to do. In doing that, there can be a grave danger in either choosing to get so involved in the affairs of this world that Jesus is nothing more than the tagline for what we do instead of the main purpose…or we end up focusing so much on Heaven that we forget about how to increase our witness through being ready for “every good work” (Matthew 5:13-17, Titus 3, 1 Peter 2:11-14, etc). And with the latter, it seems that’s often where many believers fall. If  Heaven and making it there is all that matters, then one should simply preach the Gospel and once someone wishes to follow Jesus, they should hide away and wait to die. Of course, that’d be ludicrious…but that’s often what the preaching of others on Heaven/”This world will burn up” leads to. They end up having NO action whatsoever and forgetting that God called us to make a difference in the time we’re here…be it with the ending of Human Trafficking, the addressment of Child Pornagraphy, neglecting the poor, looking after widows and orphans or a host of other issues pertaining to social justice.

I’m reminded of what Dr.Martin Luther King noted when it came to the call to be like Good Samaritans (Luke 10:25-39) in our love for others/in service to God—for as he said best:

I think the Good Samaritan is a great individual. I of course, like and respect the Good Samaritan….but I don’t want to be a Good Samaritan….. I am tired of picking up people along the Jericho Road. I am tired of seeing people battered and bruised and bloody, injured and jumped on, along the Jericho Roads of life. This road is dangerous. I don’t want to pick up anyone else, along this Jericho Road; I want to fix… the Jericho Road. I want to pave the Jericho Road, add street lights to the Jericho Road; make the Jericho Road safe (for passage) by everybody….


In his speech, entitled “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence”, Brother Martin said the following for more clarification on the Good Samaritan issue:

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

And As Dr.King said best in another one of his speeches, specifically his “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech, delievered April 3, 1968 :

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base….

Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.

Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem — or down to Jericho, rather to organize a “Jericho Road Improvement Association.” That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles — or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

We’re all interconnected…and As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his sermon “Where Do We Go From Here”:

 

“All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed. …We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge which is provided for us by a Pacific islander. We reach for a soap that is created by a European. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese or cocoa by a west African. Before we leave for our jobs we are already beholden to more than half the world….We are inevitably our brother’s keeper, because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

 

For one example of what Martin was saying, Generally, consider the issue of how much of the coffee we use cannot be gained through fair-trade (as even the best coffee comes at the expense of farmers not getting paid fairly for their work). There was a book I referenced earlier on the issue entitled ‘Everyday Justice” (by Judy Clawson) that did an excellent review on the matter… For more info, would suggest going online and looking up the article under the name of “Everyday Justice >>> Fair Trade Christmas” ( //www.everydayjustice.net/category/fair-trade/ ). Another documentary one could look up is entitled “Black Gold“, Codirected and coproduced by Nick and Marc Francis ( 78 min)—as it is a documentary on Ethiopian coffee farmers seeking a fair price for their efforts. “Buyer Be Fair” ( Written and directed by John de Graaf and about. 57 min ) is another one that goes in-depth on the issue…as its a documentary overview of fair-trade certification, and how it helps people and the environment.

Many coffee farmers are shortchanged for that product we use to no end here, be it with “Starbucks” or “Carribo Coffee”…with that leading to desperation and in turn, it leading to them getting involved extensively in growing cocaine for the drug game, which we then see the results of abroad and in our cities..trying to shut that aspect down but forgetting all of the ways it connects to things we never realize…………..one huge twisted eco-system.

 Of course, this is similar to other realities of what happens with things like the child slavery in the manufacture of chocolate, as most of the chocolate we recieve today comes from that outlet…as many were illegally trafficked into these countries (meaning kidnapped and/or sold away from their families), while others were promised a “good” job that would help support their families…only to be cruelly surprised. All are working in deplorable conditions with little pay and frequent beatings. The same dynamics happen with other commodities beside that—-such as with the Diamonds we get from the stores, in example, for engagement rings and other usages that are often gotten at the expense of CHILDREN being brutally murdered in the “blood diamond” slave mines in Africa…

For another example of what how being a neighbor has more than one way it can be reflected, one can consider the Tomato industry. With the Tomato industry in general, the natural tomatoes that are truly delicious are not even really sold anymore–in favor of the colored ones (made artifically “Bright Red) that are genetically made/on demand……and many times, made en mass. In reading the book “Everyday Justice”, I was appalled to see that the demands we often put on produce creates conditions even in the U.S akin to what one would expect in the days of SLAVERY/plantations. On a roadtrip I took to Florida last June, we passed many farms…..and its still shocking to consider how many tomato farms we went by may’ve limited others to slave-like conditions, with no fair wages and inhumane treatement of workers when it comes to chemicals they have to work with without protection to produce the tomatoes we enjoy. The US government has repeatedly uncovered slavery rings among farms in Florida, and in 2008, five farm owners were prosecuted for beating tomato harvesters …with many cases of sexual harrassment on the women, who were migrant workers and forced into silence.

Taco Bell, which is one of the leading industries demanding tomatoes, was implicated in many cases for their working with these same farms—knowingly allowing it to continue as long as they got their produce on time. It was exposed recently..and only of late have they begun to try addressing the problem

For more info, one can go online and look up an article under the name of “Politics of the Plate: Florida’s Slave Trade” ( //www.gourmet.com/foodpolitics/2009/03/politics-of-the-plate-tomato-slaves-follow-up ). One can also go online/look up “A New Milestone for the CIW
” ( //www.everydayjustice.net/2009/10/06/a-new-milestone-for-the-ciw/ ) and Modern-Day Slavery Museum reveals cruelty in Florida fields ( //www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/modern-day-slavery-museum-reveals-cruelty-in-florida-fields/1081253 )

Amazing how we never stop to consider how even the very veggies we wanted on demand/got may not have come in a manner that God would deem “walking humbly and loving justice before the Lord” (Amos 5:14-16 and Micah 6:7-9 ).

 

As it concerns being a good neighbor with regards to the environment, somethign else to consider is the ways in which we use our oil. Most reading this (if they’re out there) may be aware of the BP Oil Spill that occurred this year.

The Oil Spill hurt people here in the states and people were scrambling to give aid to those who were damaged (i.e. food, housing, jobs, etc),  yet most are not even aware of how trying to address that may be noble…but ultimately a bad solution in the long-term. For in the event that you did not know, BP has already done issues of great damage to the U.S. on our own soil before..with little coverage on it by the Media as with the GULF Coast. In example, With BP, I was amazed to learn that a BP refinery in nearby Indiana recieved an exemption on its new state water permit to by-pass federal … regarding the amount of mercury it could dump into Lake Michigan (over two pounds each year)–something EXTREMELY dangerous since mercury builds up over time in an envrironment and is so toxic that small amounts can harm or even kill fish…and people. It causes brain damage in fetuses if pregant mothers are exposed directly to the water or fish consusmed/eaten..and since Lake Michigan is a major draw for leisure activity like fishing /boating and swimming…providing MOST of the drinking water for Chicago area, one can imagine how people reacted.

For more info on the issue, one can go online/look up the following under their respective titles:

  • –“EPA OK’s BP Pollution at Whiting, IN Refinery – Democratic Underground” ( //www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=151×6181 )

 

  • –“BP dumps mercury in lake – chicagotribune.com” ( //www.chicagotribune.com/services/chi-mercury_27jul27,0,6726083.story )

Many were shocked to see the corruption and callous actions by the company that were allowed to occur….with it being calculated that if damage occured, then there’d be sensation on how to quickly “fix” the problem. It was appaling to see how a corporation has operated against the very people it claims to wish to support–and their actions brought to light the objectives of a company—to make a profit—and pitted them against the health and well-being of people. ..but if they were willing to do that then, then its not a surprise to see the same realities with the OIL spill/the risks taken that have affected us today.

Of course, BP is not the only company guilty of putting profit above human life….and thats where the larger perspective comes in concerning where prayer needs to go.

In example, ChevronTexaco brought the Niger River Delta to near-destruction through similar oil spills and toxic fallout from their refineries. As it turns out, when local women there could no longer make a living fishing (as they had for generations) because of the pollution, they protested and asked Chevron to clean up the devestation they created. In response, Chevron hired local mercenaries to deal with the protest who ended up killing some of the women and burning their boats. Sadly, the courts later decided that Chevron was not responsible for the actions of the mercenaries they hired……

As someone else said best, “Imagine BP’s Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil disaster happening every single year, with little or no public outcry, no media coverage, and all but silence from government and the companies involved. Welcome to Nigeria.”

For more info on the subject, one can go online and look up the following under their respective titles:

  • —“Nigeria and Oil” ( //www.globalissues.org/article/86/nigeria-and-oil )

 

  • “Democracy NOW!! The True Cost of Oil” ( //www.democracynow.org/features/shell_on_trial )
  • –“EveryDay Justice– Oil Spill and Nigeria” ( //www.everydayjustice.net/2010/06/16/oil-spill-and-nigeria/ ),
  • –“Sweet Crude: A New Documentary on the Niger Delta by Sandy Cioffi” ( //www.sweetcrudemovie.com/learnMore.php )
  • –“Democracy Now!!! 2008 Court Case shows Chevron Cleared in 1998 Shooting Deaths of Protesters in Niger Delta” ( //www.democracynow.org/2008/12/2/chevron_cleared_in_1998_shooting_deaths )

Its amazing to see how more oil spills out from the Nigerian delta every year than has been lost In the Gulf.

As one native said on the issue, as it relates to why the United States should care, and the moral implications of the ongoing tragedy:

With 606 oilfields, the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution. Life expectancy in its rural communities, half of which have no access to clean water, has fallen to little more than 40 years over the past two generations. Locals blame the oil that pollutes their land and can scarcely believe the contrast with the steps taken by BP and the US government to try to stop the Gulf oil leak and to protect the Louisiana shoreline from pollution.”

Ben Ikari, a member of the Ogoni people, put it simply. “If this Gulf accident had happened in Nigeria, neither the government nor the company would have paid much attention,” Ikari said. “This kind of spill happens all the time in the delta. The oil companies just ignore it. The lawmakers do not care and people must live with pollution daily. The situation is now worse than it was 30 years ago. Nothing is changing. When I see the efforts that are being made in the U.S. I feel a great sense of sadness at the double standards.”

Seeing the issue can aid in giving a bit of perspective on the realities of what’s happening in the Gulf/Sensationalism on how bad it has affected the U.S….as if all has been innocent and now “a ecosystem disater of massive proportions is arising that we must be in alarms about”. The Gulf Coast Oil Spill is a blessing in many ways…as it is serving as a means of reminding others of the ways in which our own nation has already been responsible for injustices/damages of the same magnitude in countries all around…and that we should take injustice very seriously. All of that is said to say that there’s a MUCH LARGER issue with the Gulf Crisis than simply having OIL spill into the GULF. For at the root of it/many other instances is an issue of CHARACTER…..corruption….and it may take a long-time to see effective change if other issues are not dealt with.

Beyond the actions of OIL Companies, the other factor to consider is how many of those companies in trouble are DEPENDENT upon our demands…and in many ways, a simple reflection of our own desires. For many, again, are beginning to see is how many OIL Companies/their actions are simply a reflection of the failure of what most Americans wanted…..companies that were free of any government regulation/checks, with many believing in laizze fair capitalism for big corporations and being surprised…no more different than one saying its okay for teenage boys/girls to sleep in the same sleeping bag and no balances given since the youth pastor “believes in teens”.

And with that, again, comes the issue of addressing how these companies are relying upon our own addictions to CRUDE Oil. And as long as we cannot escape that, there’s little to no hope on the matter. As much as I may trip on the coroporations doing injustice, the reality is that even the little folks/marginalized appaled at what happens globally to others forget that they also participate in it by supporting the OIL Companines/using their products…..even as they’re aware of how those same companies will harm them if it meant a profit (as has happened before). Many angry at BP may not stop to ask themselves how they participate vicariously in things that support the same kind of damages. BP should have had better protections in place. ..and the Feds should have demanded those safeguards. But many choose to ignore their own little narcissistic life before they hate big oil. With other petro-habits (like the fact that, according to the Pacific Institute, in 2006 it took 17 million barrels of oil to make all the plastic water bottles we used that year…and that It takes over 11 million barrels of oil to make all the single-use plastic bags we plow through each year), it seems that the issue is a very compelx one.

Our “benefits” are either connected to someone else’s benefit…or their detriment. ….but ultimately, it all goes back to truly seeking to understand what it means to be the neighbor of another. With regards to being a neigbor to others in our evironmental choices, God has called us since Genesis 1-2 to be others who are for GODLY Stewardship of our world….as one of the ways we reflect Him Its sad to see as a whole,  how its often the case that most believers consider issues of environmental concenrs (i.e. cleaning up Toxic waste, recycling, renewable engery sources, sustainable development, global warming, etc) as “secular issues” rather than connected to the Heart of the Gospel. Most even go to the extreme of saying all concerned for the environment are simply “liberal tree huggers”, making it into a political issue alone of polarization rather than one of PRACTICALITY/Responsibility. Opponents dismiss ecological concerns as an excuse to worship the world itself instead of God or simply as a secular trend.

For more good info on the issues:

 

Books I’ve enjoyed reading on the issue are ones such as Ben Green, on his book entitled “Green Revolution: Creation Care”..One of the best kats around on the issue of Godly Environmentalism is one known as Jonathan Merrit. He wrote an article that may bless you, entitled “Preaching Gone Green.” One book on the issue that I read recently and that has been an immense blessing is entitled “Green Like God”—and I think you may enjoy it, as it deals with the issue of how often the issue of Godly Stewardship of the Earth/Creation Care is not considered with issues like environmental degradation. As he said best, “Living out the gospel includes caring for creation. It is inappropriate to claim that creation care—or any social issue—composes the foundation of the gospel. But the gospel calls us to a radically sacrificial, compassionate lifestyle. Jesus commands us to “make disciples of all nations” and teach others to “obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). This includes the commands to love our global neighbors, care for the least of these, and uphold the creation care mandates throughout Scripture.”

 
Blessings…

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One Response to “More than Living “Next Door”: What does it mean to be a Neighbor?”

  1. […] Patriarch". And he's not a communist Always been a big proponent of what's known as Creation Care/environmental stewardship. We only have one world that the Lord gave and I believe that if we take care of it, it'll take […]

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