“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus (Mark 12:31a)
Say you lived next to Burt and Tillie. One day Burt and Tillie’s house is struck by lightning and it burns to the ground. You look out your window at the destruction and, as you look to what used to be the back porch you see them. Burt, Tillie and their cat. They are wrapped in a blanket to keep warm from the cold penetrating their pajamas. You see that they, Burt and Tillie, not the cat, have slippers on. They look stunned. They aren’t so much weeping as just in shock.
So you wander over to the neighbor’s house and you try to think of what to say. You know them as good, hard-working people who take care of their house and family. So, are you thinking, “I wonder why God punished them with a lightning bolt?” Are you thinking, “I am sorry it happened to you, but better you than me?” Are you thinking, “Do you think insurance will pay for this? What is an ‘act of God’ anyway?” What you finally settle on to say is, “How can I help?” They answer that they don’t know where to begin; they lost everything in the fire. But, they tell you, they are happy they got out of the fire alive. You nod in agreement that escaping death by such a means is one good take-away.
You stand there a while longer, staring at the destruction, shivering with them. You realize you have a full day of activities planned. So, you say, “Well, I am really sorry for all of this. I can’t imagine what it must be like. But, like I say, if I can help, let me know.”
You get home, turn on the television and see the film footage of the fire. Someone has started a relief fund for Burt and Tillie to help them get back on their feet. Money is starting to come in, they say, from people all over the viewing area. “Well,”, you think, “that makes me feel better! They’re going to be fine. I sure am glad I told them how sorry I was for their loss, and I even offered to help. That’s what a neighbor is for, right?”