John Donne in his poem, No Man is an Island, penned, “no man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main”. Written in 1624, and amazingly, it is still as relevant today. Our lives as human beings are as intertwined as freshly cooked spaghetti. Try as we may, we cannot easily separate ourselves from each other.
There is much good to be acknowledged in this idea that we are ever more intertwined as a world. We have a great opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our neighbors. Technology affords us a front row seat to what is going on in the world around us and at the same time gives us the opportunity to impact each other. I can sit in my living room in Jamaica and write a piece to encourage not just those in my country but in several other places due to this connectivity.
I recall when I spent several years in the inner city of Chicago working with an organization that caters to the homeless and recovering addicts of the city. One of the things that stood out to me was how many persons came to volunteer to help those in need, granted, most of the help came around the holidays. I saw people of different backgrounds, color, shape, age and size, come out to do a good deed for their fellow man. Many of these persons were also regular contributors to the organization; everyone attempting to do their part.
Loving and reaching out to our neighbor is not always an easy thing to do. I heard a pastor once say, loving your neighbor is not so easy, especially when they continue to blow ‘island fragrance’ over your fence-referring to marijuana smoking. It is a good thing that it is through Christ that we become loving. Of ourselves, we would surely have a hard time loving our neighbors, especially when they do not live up to our standards.
I like what James says about what our heavenly father considers as true worship; to care for the orphans and the widows. A natural outflow of having Jesus in our hearts should be us extending kindness to each other because this is the nature of who Jesus is.
In Matthew 24: 40, Jesus tells his disciples what will be the result of this caring for others in his name. He reminds them that whatever they did for the least among us, they did for him. He relates this to them receiving their inheritance, the kingdom of God.
If we truly desire to do work for Jesus, then we have to reach out to our neighbor, regardless of who they might be. We must view our neighbors through God’s grace. His grace makes allowance for our faults and theirs, for our shortcomings and misgivings, because we are imperfect creatures and only Jesus can make us perfect.