Being a Good Neighbor
Joey watched the new boy wobble on his bike as he tried to ride it down the sidewalk. How dumb could you be? This kid had fallen off his bike at least ten times already this morning, and he still hadn?t figured out how to use the breaks to make his bike stop. Every time he wanted to get off his bike, he would stop peddling and simple fall over. Someone ought to show him how to use the hand breaks to come to a safe stop.
Joey had been tempted to go over and give him some advice about how to get off the bike safely, but that was before the big kids came home and got off the school bus. Ali, that's what the boy's name was, fell one more time just as the first kid got off the bus. The bigger boy walked over like he was going to help Ali, then he shoved him down instead.
"You stupid Arab," the big boy said. "You can't even ride a bike. No wonder you're not in school yet. You're too dumb!" Then the big boy kicked the fender on Ali's bicycle. All the other kids laughed and thought it was funny to pick on the new boy. That's what the kids did sometimes when someone different moved into the area.
"They don't belong in our neighborhood." is what the kids said. They often said things they hear from their parents.
The parents had not liked it when Ali's parents moved into the neighborhood. Their skin was darker in color than most of the other kids. Ali's father wore a mustache. No one else in the neighborhood wore a mustache. Ali's mother wore a funny looking scarf over her head. No one else's mom wore a scarf over her head when she was outside. Joey had head his own dad say that the family had moved to America to escape the war in the Mideast. They had been in danger back home after Ali's Dad had been seen talking to American soldiers about the Bible. Joey guessed that the soldiers had been acting like missionaries, sharing their faith when they weren't fighting. Now it was like there was a war in the neighborhood. Joey didn't like fighting in his neighborhood.
It shouldn't be that way thought Joey. People ought to be nice to each other. He remembered his Sunday school teacher talking about being a good neighbor.
Jesus was preaching at the temple one day when a lawyer came up to Jesus. "Master, what must I do to have eternal life?" asked the man.
"What does God say in the scriptures?" Jesus asked the man.
"The scriptures say to love the Lord with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and that you must love your neighbor as yourself."
Jesus had made the man answer his own question. "You have answered right," He said. "Do this, and you will have eternal life."
"But, who is my neighbor?" asked the man.
Then Jesus told a story to show what loving a neighbor means.
"There once was a man who went from Jerusalem to Jericho. The road to Jericho was rough and wild. Big rocks and cliffs jutted out near the road. Robbers often hid among the rocks and sprang out upon lonely travelers and took everything they had."
"As this man was traveling along, a band of robbers jumped out in front of him. The man was surrounded and unable to get away. The men beat him. They took his money, and they even took his clothes. When they left, he was almost dead. They left him bleeding and helpless beside the road."
"A little while later a priest came by. He saw the man lying by the road, but he did not even try to help him. That man is probably dead anyhow, the priest thought. It is not my job to handle dead bodies. Someone else will probably find him. The priest continued on his way."
"Soon, a Levite, a priest?s assistant, came by. He also saw the wounded man. He even walked over and looked at him. But, he did not take time to put his hand on the man's heart to see if it was still beating. He just looked at him curiously then walked to the other side of the road and quickly walked on."
"Last of all, a Samaritan came along the road. He was one of the people who all the Jews scorned. The Jews and Samaritans had lived close to each other for years, but the Jews hated the Samaritans. This man had been treated badly by every Jew he had come into contact with all his life. Most people like him would have walked right past this wounded man."
"Instead, the Samaritan went over to where the poor man was lying and felt the man?s heart to see if it was still beating. Then, he listened to hear if he was still breathing."
"When he found out that the man was alive, he took wine and washed the wounds the robbers had made."
Joey remembered asking his Sunday school teacher why the man used wine to wash the man?s wounds. His Sunday school teacher said that wine killed the germs and probably kept the wounds from getting infected.
"The Samaritan also put olive oil on the wounds. That was like medicine. After a while, the wounded man opened his eyes. The Samaritan put him on his mule that he had been riding and walked beside him until they got to an inn, which was like a motel back them.
"At the inn the Samaritan put the wounded man into a bed and watched over him to make sure he was going to be okay. By the next day, the Samaritan had to leave to go do his business. He gave the innkeeper money and said, 'Take care of him, and if you have to spend more money than this - do it! I will repay you when I come this way again.'"
Jesus asked the lawyer, "Which of the three men do you think was a good neighbor to the man who fell among the thieves?"
The lawyer said, "It was the man who showed mercy and helped the wounded man."
"That's right," said Jesus. "Go and be like that man."
Joey looked at Ali as the boy picked up his bike and straightened out the fender that had been kicked in earlier. The boy had fallen down so many times that he looked like a wounded man. It would be easy to cross the street and keep going. But a good neighbor would go and show Ali what he was doing wrong so the boy could learn to stop his bike. Joey knew that Jesus would want him to act like a good neighbor. It didn't matter that the boy was from somewhere else ? or what his mom or dad looked like or anything else. Joey knew he needed to be a good neighbor to the boy - and maybe the boy would learn to be a good neighbor on return.
"Hey, Ali," Joey shouted. "Wait a minute. I want to show you something."
Are you a good neighbor?
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to Mike@mikelockett.com in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs.