“Love is a demonstrated preference, for the wellbeing of others, over and above myself, even at great personal expense, by the help of the Holy Spirit.”
In Luke 10 we find a discussion between Jesus and a religious law expert on what it means to fulfill God’s commandments. Going back and forth a bit — they finally agree that the law can be summed up by “loving God and loving your neighbor.”  (In other places in the Bible this is called the Greatest Commandment.)  This is where the law expert should have stopped talking but he couldn’t help himself and asked a clarifying question — “Who is my neighbor?  In other words, “I need to know who I am responsible to love, and who I am not responsible to love.”
Jesus responded with a story to help the expert in the law (and those who had gathered to hear) learn a significant lesson about love. The story went like this: 
There was a man traveling on a road between two cities and partway through his trip he was attacked, beaten, robbed, and left to die.  As the man lay there semi-conscious, a pastor walks by on his way to serve God at the church. The pastor sees the man but doesn’t slow down or make eye contact and instead keeps walking. Soon after a church-goer passes by the injured man on his way to go to church and worship. He sees the man but doesn’t slow down or make eye contact and instead keeps walking.
Shortly after that, another man walks by on the road. He isn’t a church-goer or a pastor. In fact, if you asked the pastor or church-goer, this man is not holy enough. He doesn’t go to the right church and doesn’t make the right sacrifices! Yet, he sees the man is injured and stops to help. He pulls out his first aid kit, cleans the man up, and then sets him up with food, a hotel room, and medical care for the next few days; promising to stop back by and check in on him again on his way back.
At the end of the story, Jesus asked the law expert, “Which one of these three showed love to the injured man?”   The law expert was conflicted — he wanted it to be the pastor or the church-goer.  He related so much with those two.  Yet, clearly, it was “the one who stopped to help” who demonstrated love.  Jesus’ last words to the law expert were, “so now you go and do the same.”  
As Jesus-people, we must be cautious that we do not respond like the pastor, church-goer (or law expert) in this story — comfortable in our self-proclaimed holiness — walking past people and situations that need the love of God. Our busyness in the ‘business’ of the church isn’t loving; our willingness to stop and extend mercy is. When we turn a blind eye to the suffering of people made in the image of God, we are not loving; but when we let our hearts break with compassion for the needs of others we are. When we pass judgment on people who are in hard places and we do not freely offer the grace we have received, we are not loving.  et, when we sit and listen to people right where they are, and then offer a hand for friendship and support, we are loving.
If you are a Jesus-person, then doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with someone's religious practices, or lack thereof, with politics or lack thereof, social status, education, or any other factor in life —  everyone you meet on this island is your neighbor and worthy of love.  
”Now go and do the same.”
Peter Epler is pastor of Ketchikan Church of the Nazarene.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.