Chris Palusky, President and CEO
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:30-31 (ESV)
In Mark 12, Jesus shares with us in one concise passage the most important calling we have on our lives: To love God with everything we have and then to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves. You’ve almost certainly heard this verse before, but did you know that as few as 26% of Americans say they know “most” of their neighbors?
That means that 74%, almost 3 out of every 4 of us, do not interact with the people we regularly see.
Why not? It is likely because they are not in our friend circles. We don’t follow them on social media or spend time with them in social settings.
Now, what about the broader interpretation of “neighbors?” Our community. Those we share a city or even a state with. Our hairdressers, car repair men and women, cashiers, waiters and waitresses, and so on. God calls us to love them like we would ourselves, but it doesn’t always feel natural to put this into practice.
Deeper reading: Check out Luke 6:32-36 to learn more about how we can practice loving others, even when the love is not initially returned.
However, at Bethany, we regularly witness how a caring community changes everything for a neighborhood. In Ethiopia, Bethany worked with local churches and government to launch the country’s first foster care system as an alternative to orphanage care. We’ve been amazed to watch their church community step up as foster parents and provide the children in their neighborhood with safe, loving family care.
Here in the states, programs like Safe Families for Children leverage the power of community to support healthy family development and keep kids from unnecessarily being removed from their home and placed in the foster care system. Children in vulnerable situations are the direct recipients of love and a quality of life they might not have access to without a community, but we also believe the community itself is also benefited!
At the end of the day, we are stronger together and Jesus has entrusted us to each other. These amazing results are only possible through the involvement of many individuals! In 1 Corinthians 12 we learn about how the body of Christ is successful only through the combined power of many unique skills, passions, generosities, and personalities.
How will you use yours?
Jesus, thank you for how you have blessed me, my family and our life, and thank you for your Word, which reveals to us your perfect truth and acts as our guide to life. This month show me how I can extend love and care to my neighbors. Help me to discover how I might be uniquely positioned to make a difference in my own community and neighborhood by acting as your hands and feet here. Amen.
Chris Palusky is the president and CEO at Bethany Christian Services. This year, Bethany has partnered with Year of the Bible 2020, which is a movement to see a year of more Bible engagement than ever before. You can join in this goal by committing to read the Bible this year and by registering at yearofthebible.com. Bethany is excited to help you reach your Scripture goals by providing a once-monthly scripture.