Lectionary Reading: Mark 10:17-31 (NRSV)
One of my favorite shows when I was pretty small was Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. It came on right as I got home from preschool and I would watch it while my mom fixed me lunch.
He always opened the show by coming in and changing into his more relaxed outfit including some comfortable shoes all while singing his opening theme song.
I think the line that stuck with me was, "I always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you."
Fred Rogers taught some important lessons about being a good neighbor such as how it is better to build someone up rather than tear them down. It is more helpful to point out what a person is good at than to highlight their weaknesses.
"I think those who try to make you feel less than you are - that's the greatest evil," Rogers said in the film, Won't You Be My Neighbor?
I wonder if this is what Jesus perceived to be the fault in the rich man in today's reading. Maybe he kept all of the laws just like he kept all of his money - to put himself above others. To truly relate and follow Jesus, he would have to set aside his wealth which became a barrier.
Unfortunately, he couldn't do it.
We don't often imagine that people could turn down Jesus. When he calls the disciples, they seem to drop everything and follow - almost as if Jesus has this magical sway over them. But the man in today's reading shows us that this is not the case. He freely rejects Jesus.
What does it mean for Christians to be neighborly to one another? How do we love our neighbors as we love ourselves? As we become more connected online, we also seem to be less connected with the people who inhabit the homes around us. It could be that we are only really interested in being neighborly with the people who have more in common with us.
As we think about our Christian stewardship, it is interesting that the money we give to the church goes to help us fulfill our call to be good neighbors. While we can't pay someone to be a Christian for us, we can support ministries that change the lives of people we won't even meet. Maybe this is how we can be the neighbors that Fred Rogers always wanted to have!
File photo posted via Flickr.com by Rogelio A. Galaviz C. through the Creative Commons license.