Hold a Posture of Humility
I find it interesting, given the apparently random placement of my actual neighbors, that Jesus is clear they are exactly whom I must love—the strangers right in front of me. But when I approach my neighbor, I do it from my central worldview, one I have developed over time through my family of origin, cultural roots, racial experience, education, life experiences, personality, political tendencies, and faith. I believe things about the world for good reason, as do my neighbors for their good reasons.
This is where a posture of humility comes in. We must love our neighbors from an understanding of who we are and who they are—and certainly who God is—in this world. The more I am aware of my worldview and where it comes from, the more I am able to learn from the person who experiences and looks at life differently than I do. This not only helps me better understand my neighbor; it also helps me better see God working in diverse ways in the world.
The hard work of loving our actual neighbor begins in the secret places: our hearts and minds. Humility doesn’t come naturally. It isn’t about thinking less of myself but recognizing I am not the center of creation. I am not in charge. I am not the standard by which the rest of the world should live. God has those responsibilities covered.
When I remember that my neighbor is also made in God’s image and has equal access to his grace, I can avoid acting as either rescuer or expert in how they are to live. There is freedom in offering love brother to brother, sister to sister, knowing we are on equal footing under God’s overarching authority. Love and humility go hand in hand. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, author of Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, defines humility as “to become like Jesus in his willingness to choose the hidden way of love rather than the way of power.” The way of power is controlling, demanding, and self-serving. The opposite of that is gentleness and other-serving. As we choose the hidden way of love, we encounter the Holy Spirit, and he gives us an inner strength from which this fruit grows.
How can you live more in “the hidden way of love rather than the way of power”?