Last night at church, during the Lenten supper series, we read and studied one of the Bible’s accounts of Jesus commanding us to love our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:31). This subject introduced some lively discussion on what constitutes a neighbor. It’s uncomfortable to learn that a neighbor is not just the sweet old lady who lives down the street. It’s those we meet on the bus, the homeless, those behind prison bars, those from foreign countries, our own countrymen, our classmate. In other words, anyone with whom we come into contact other than our family members is classified as our neighbor.
But when a “neighbor” called me this morning, he got a piece of my mind and it wasn’t a loving piece either. Like many friends, I don’t typically answer my cell phone if I don’t recognize the number. We all get those scam calls and sometimes I regret hanging up so quickly. I listen to Cedric talking to spammers and leading them on and it’s hilarious when he asks the caller what language they are speaking. The answer is, of course, English – to which he always retorts, “Doesn’t sound like English to me, in his very British accent,” before hanging up.
When my cell rang, I hit the speaker button and answered. I heard sounds of hilarity and chat in the background before “Alex” realized he had a live person on the phone and pressed his talk button. This was Alex from the Social Security office – hmmm, I know the agents love their job but they don’t usually sound like they’re having a party. I let him read a couple of sentences telling me that I was delinquent on whatever before I leaned into the microphone and yelled as loud as I could: “YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. SHAME ON YOU. THIS IS SUCH A SCAM!” I heard a sharp intake of breath and Alex said, “Whoa,” before he disconnected. I really don’t think he was expecting that.
I felt good, but the real issue is – I came into contact with Alex today. Am I really supposed to love Alex?