You may or may not know me by name; I’m the guy that works the same shift at the plant. I’m the woman that sat the other day at the nearby table at the donut shop. I’m the grease-stained mechanic that periodically works on your car. I’m the old man who walks his dog past your house every morning. I’m the teenage hotrod who cut in front of you on the freeway yesterday and then glared back in disgust as if it were your fault. I’m the feeble old lady who lives in seclusion in her house down the street. I’m that obnoxious beer guzzler who you had to sit by at the last baseball game and whose loud mouth you had to endure through extra innings.
No, I’m not a Christian. I’m just your neighbor.
You may not like the way I live or the way I act. As I see it, a little dishonesty now and then is natural, even necessary. I can use profanity as well as anyone and I don’t mind proving it on occasion. I think that happiness in life depends on what you have, on what you can get, on what you can accomplish. My life is centered totally around self. Isn’t everybody’s? Maybe God is up there, but I’m not concerned with Him. If He had any concern for me, why did He take my loved one? I suppose religion is fine for some people if that’s what they want. But I think those fanatics that let it control their lives are fools. Life is too short; there are too many problems, and too many pains. Why should I burden myself with something that is so restrictive? Yet no matter how hard I try, I don’t ever seem to be able to find the happiness I am looking for. I don’t understand why.
I’m not a Christian. I’m just your neighbor.
You can see what my problem is even though I can’t. My concepts of God, morality, and true happiness are distorted. I misunderstood the purpose for my being here. I don’t see sin for what it really is a crime against my Maker, and a cruel oppressor that holds me captive. And I don’t realize that eternal punishment is only a heartbeat away. But you understand all this. Would you allow me to continue in my ignorance without even lifting a finger to help? Isn’t there anything you can do? Perhaps if you would show me some kindness even when I don’t deserve it, strike up a friendly conversation, show an interest in me, and don’t be afraid to mention God or morality. Yes, I’ll probably think you’re a little strange at first, but don’t you see I need help in thinking about such matters? If left up to me, those things would rarely enter my mind. Show me the joyfulness that you say accompanies one who serves God. Let me see that there really are people that have found contentment in life. Prove to me that total dedication to Christ lifts a man’s burdens instead of becoming an additional one. But don’t stop there. Invite me to come to worship with you. Ask me to come join you in a bible study. If I say “no” at first, don’t give up on me. Tell me about God’s plan of salvation. Teach me those noble truths that you know so well. Above all, be patient. Don’t become easily frustrated when those passages that are so clear to you do not appear so clear to me. Slowly and gently, remove the scales of sectarian religion from my eyes and help me to be what I should be. Help me so that my soul can be saved, too.
You may or may not know me by name, but I will tell you who I am. I am the one who is going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and who fell among thieves. I was stripped, I was beaten, and I was left half-dead. Some have already seen me and yet have passed me by. I’m not a Christian. Won’t you please be my neighbor?