Unless you’ve seen the picture to the left already, it may seem like just an average picture with two people holding hands. It’s not. The picture was actually taken during the recent protests in Cairo, Egypt. In the background you see Muslims kneeling for prayer. The two men holding hands are actually a group of native Christians who are surrounding the Muslim neighbors to protect them while they pray.
In Matthew 22:34-40, we learn that the greatest commands are to love God first and love neighbor second. In Luke 10 one of the most memorable parables of Jesus, The Parable of the Good Samaritan, is told. This parable is told when an expert in the law, trying to justify himself, wanted Jesus to expound on the question of just who a neighbor is. We know the story and how it ends. The one who acted neighborly was a Samaritan and for most Jewish people at the time, that was the last thing they wanted to hear.
What is important here is to recognize that loving neighbor has nothing to do with another person’s politics or religion. Loving neighbor is what we are called to do regardless of who the neighbor is…even when there is a great amount of historical hostility between us and our neighbor, as in the case between Christians and Muslims.
The picture of these Christians in Egypt protecting their Muslim neighbors is a fine example and expression of loving neighbor. While there are certainly Muslim extremist who have committed great acts of evil against Christians, historically Christians have also been guilty of terrible sins committed against humanity. I can’t help but wonder how history would unfold in the future if examples like the above took place more often. May we all learn to love our neighbor as ourself!