Editorial: Who is My Neighbor?

Tsunami . . . Did we understand its potential devastation? Waves rolled in mighty silence. Within 15 minutes, the leading wave seized its first unsuspecting thousands. Eventually, the incomprehensible destructiveness savaged coasts 3000 miles apart. No warning system alerted people during those seven hours. They had never faced anything like it. Millions lost all their possessions. Too many lost their lives. A few surreal moments made the difference.

Eternal judgment . . . Do we really understand its potential damnation? Its waves roll in mighty silence toward a billion souls. They engulf unsuspecting thousands across the globe. Relentless, they never abate. Forever. The existing warning system has failed doomed millions. Those in its path of unthinkable destruction have never faced anything like it. They do not recognize the warning signs. Each will lose his soul, his inestimable treasure, everything. Any workaday moment will make the difference.

Words or material gifts cannot adequately express our compassion for the millions who suddenly lost property and loved ones during the fateful hours of December 26, 2004. So far removed from so many of us, those sobbing souls are faceless strangers, yet we are not – cannot allow ourselves to think that we are – somehow detached from them.

In His parable of the Samaritan, the Lord clarifies that righteousness actively expresses its compassion for the needy. Love for our neighbor looks for ways to show mercy. The tsunami victims have justly tapped a world of concerned hearts. Yet a sound of more distant sobs pleads for a response from believing hearts. Like the rich man’s prayer (Luke 16:27, 28), the cries of those caught in the waves of eternal judgment plead for souls lolling on the shores of time. Who will warn the lost?

Governments will spend millions on a warning system to forestall a repeat of the tsunami’s devastation, as unlikely as that may be. But the waves of eternal judgment are certain to thunder over our neighbors. Tsunami victims are far from us; our concern could hardly produce a full commitment to meet their staggering needs. Our neighbors are nearby. Are we concerned? Are we fully committed to meeting their staggering need? Will we dedicate ourselves to an effective warning system and forestall their eternal loss?

On Maikhao beach in northern Thailand, 10 year old Tilly Smith recognized the tsunami’s warning signs. With her parents, she safely evacuated a hundred souls from the beach. That section of the devastated coast had no casualties.

What can one lone voice accomplish on a scant stretch of eternity’s coast? Do we utilize calendars, texts, fridge magnets, tracts, timely words, effective contacts, home Bible studies, neighborhood children’s meetings, regular gospel series? Does a genuine gospel vision mobilize us? Do my neighbors know the gospel? Have I brought them to hear gospel preaching?