June 12, 2019

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:31

Since I was in grade school, I have been taught that when the Bible mentions the phrase, “your neighbor” it is referencing all people, not just those who live next to our own house. So, when Jesus tells us to, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is a statement about all the people all over the world. This week, four teens from Sapulpa reminded me that a great place to begin sharing God’s love is actually right next door.

Catherine Ritchie is a 90-year-old resident of Sapulpa. Late one evening Catherine was in her bedroom when she realized that her house was on fire. Catherine did what she could to put the fire out, but it was beyond her control. She called 911 and tried to leave her home. Unfortunately, the smoke had filled the room and she was unable to escape.

Thankfully, Catherine’s neighbor Wyatt Hall and his friends were next door and smelled the smoke. The four teens quickly reacted to help save their neighbor. The boys called 911 and raced to their neighbor’s house to look for Mrs. Ritchie. When the boys finally were able to get into the house Nick Byrd, the youngest of the teens found Catherine in the hallway. He picked her up and carried her to safety.

There is no doubt these boys are heroes. They saved Catherine Ritchie’s life. They were much more than heroes, the were good neighbors. A few days later, one of Catherine’s daughters posted a note of gratitude online. She wrote,

“Thank you for your selfless acts of heroism and courage. Thank you for not allowing this to be the tragic end to our mother’s amazing life. Thank you for staying with her, hugging her, and helping her feel less alone until we could get to her. Thank you for being the kind of young men who thought about another person above yourselves.”

What does it mean to love our neighbors?  To act in selfless way towards others? To be kind? To put another person’s needs above our own wants and desires? What does it mean to love our neighbors? It means to care for others and put their needs before our own. There is no greater way to love. There is no greater commandment.

Rev. Keith King, Online Campus Pastor