Jesus couldn’t have been any clearer: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). We understand the words, but like the Pharisee Jesus was interacting with, we try to define neighbor. We want it to be people who think like us or share our interests. People who are easy to get along with.
Or, He could mean our neighbor. The one next door … or across the street?
That person who doesn’t keep up their lawn or plays the drums too loud or has cultural customs or a lifestyle we don’t understand or agree with.
At the very least Jesus is talking about that neighbor.
It’s one thing to be a beautiful church that gathers people who think the same and more or less look the same and like the same kind of music.
But that’s not the beautiful church Jesus wants to build. He wants to build a church that loves each other, but also serves and loves and cares for the surrounding community – the neighbors. This is a beautiful church.
We are the church. And we intend to be a beautiful church in our neighborhood.