My Neighbor, Blake

Meet my neighbor, Ian. Ian is a great guy. He dogsits for me. My dog loves Ian and, in my book, that makes Ian solid. 

When I read in God’s book that Jesus commands me to “love your neighbor as yourself,” {Leviticus 19:18} it’s easy for me to love Ian (and all my other great neighbors) and treat him how I would want to be treated. But, as Jesus taught when he schooled an expert in the Law, the set titled “My Neighbors” isn’t just the people that I know. {Luke 10:36-37}

OK. Now, meet Blake. I don’t know Blake, and you probably don’t either. But a bunch of us who frequent Facebook know what Blake looks like. He’s called "Scumbag Steve", a young man in the sideways-turned gold baseball cap and a fur-trimmed coat, and a longtime star of memes.  Usually, the text above and below Blake’s photo references some type of debauched behavior, with the implication that the person in the photo (a.k.a. Blake) is, well, a scumbag. 

Seeing as Blake was created by the same God who created me; seeing as Jesus died in order to save Blake as much as he died to save me, physical proximity does not seem to apply. In God’s eyes, Blake is my neighbor. As a Christian, I am commanded to treat Blake how I would want to be treated. 

I would not like my picture plastered all over the Internet implying that I steal from my grandpa, buy pot from a 12-year old or attend the Lenten dinner but leave before the worship service. 

Some people might think I’m being overly righteous, a Pharisee. After all, their reasoning could go, no one is saying that Blake actually does those things. It’s meant to be fun. 

Blake himself, in an open letter to another person used in memes, tries to dismiss any hurt he may have felt by saying that you can’t take things like this personally. Although there is some profanity, if you read what Blake wrote, you can see his hurt, even as he attempts to cover it up.

Here’s the thing: When I like an insulting meme, when I share a story that slanders a public figure, when I deliberately bait someone in online comments, Jesus doesn’t care whether the subject of my careless actions is hurt (or even aware of what I did). Over and over and over and over, Jesus tells me, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” No exceptions, no waivers, no excuses.

Jesus did not just command that I love my neighbor; He founded the Good Samaritan parable on a higher command: That I love God above all, even myself. And, for any Christian, the two commands must intertwine. For it is only when I focus on Jesus, and his sacrifice, that my love for God is reflected in my love for my neighbor.

It doesn’t matter that I may never meet Blake face-to-face. As soon as Jesus puts my focus on Him, I am given over to be a neighbor to all around me, regardless if they are in my physical orbit or my Facebook orbit. May He who has sacrificed all for all of us help me to always reflect His love.

See You In The Round!


*Scripture quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.