And Who Is My Neighbor?

Tim Balow
June 16th, 2020

“We will not be silent. We will be listening. We stand with you. We will be better neighbors.” 

“And who is my neighbor?”

It seems like a good question. It seems like a caring question. It seems like a question that someone with good intentions would ask.

But Jesus answers this question in a way that might make you think twice. In fact, he doesn’t answer the question at all. He actually questions the question.

In response to the question, Jesus, as he often does, tells us a story.  

At the center of the story is a man who has been robbed, beaten, and stripped of his clothing that would help any passersby in this ancient context know who he is, what tribe or group he belongs to, and what station in life he holds.

He is simply a human being hurting and in need.

As the story continues, two men pass him by.  In fact, if you have seen the location where this story is said to take place, you might even imagine them stepping over him on their way to somewhere else.

The mental calculation of these two men is clear. This hurting man’s needs are not more important than my next appointment, my comfort, my reputation, or my privilege.

And so, the hurting man remains hurting and in need. We don’t know how long he waited, but, I would guess, from the man’s perspective … it was too long.

And then a Samaritan enters the scene and places this hurting man’s needs above his own comfort, his money, and his agenda for the day. 

The room had to be quiet as Jesus finished this story. Then, turning to the man who asked the question, he asks, “Who is my neighbor?”

And instead of answering, he asks another, more personal, question.

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

In essence, when you ask, “Who is my neighbor?” you are asking, “Who qualifies for my love?”

As a follower of Jesus, that is not the right question.

If you want to follow Me, the right question is clear… 

The right question is, “Who is in need and how can I love them?”

In response to recent weeks, we want to be clear.

There is no need to wonder who is in need. There is no need to wonder who is hurting.

Black brothers and sisters need to know they matter. They need to see and hear others put these needs above their own. They need to see those of privilege leverage that privilege for their sake. 

We will respond to those in need and we will courageously explore our hearts and minds with this one question…

How can we be a better neighbor than we have been?

Both as individuals and as an organization, we have many decisions and intentional changes to make. And we encourage the entire YS family to do the same.

The first of these changes is slowing down our normal blogging schedule as we re-evaluate our messaging and our priorities.  

We will also leverage our platforms to elevate and direct you to the voices we need to listen to and learn from both within and outside of the YS family on the subject of racism.

In the meantime, if there is any question on where YS stands, let us be clear.

It’s time to do the hard work and bring the sickness of racism to an end.

Racism should not be marginalized, manipulated by politics or dismissed by the silence of us as church leaders. 

Silence is a pattern of our history that has encouraged racist attitudes to continue thriving from generation to generation.

We will listen. We will learn. We will stand with you. 

We have made mistakes. We will make mistakes. But, we will not be silent.  

We will be better neighbors.


Tim Balow

Youth Specialties exists to elevate the role of youth ministry and the youth worker to grow the faith of the next generation.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.