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Did Jesus say, “Change your neighbor as yourself”?

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A Friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page as her status update one day:

“I have quite a diverse group of friends on my Facebook….many of whom believe and behave very differently than me. I have friends who are adulterers, at least one murderer, a rapist, an assorted atheist or two, a whole slew of gossips and slanderers, several liars, a couple exotic dancers, porno models and porno readers, gun lovers and gun haters, gays and lesbians, and more whiners than I can count.

Someone recently chastised me a little about this.

As gently as I could I pointed out that Jesus didn’t say “Change your neighbor as yourself.” He said “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

My job is to love people….it’s God’s job to change people. He’s welcome to start with me because I have my place in that list, too. How am I going to love someone if I will not learn how to be their friend…even on something as simple as facebook?

Here’s something I’ve learned from reading the status updates from all my friends no matter where they are in life: we all have emotions, we all get sick, we have jobs that make us a little crazy, we long for relationships, we have families we are trying to figure out, and we want a better future. I’d say we have enough in common to be able to get along and love each other.

May God help me to love the people that He loves…and, yes, to be friends. And I pray that I can love people enough that they feel safe to ask me the hard questions of life and that maybe, together, we can search out those answers that might lead to the change process that only HE can do.”

Did I mention that she’s a pastor’s wife?

I admit that my list of Facebook friends is a little more sterile than hers.  But I admire her heart and spirit and spunk.  She says strong things in a loving way.  This is a lesson that I am constantly trying to learn for myself.  I think this is the core of Grace.