How to Love a Bike Thief

How to Love a Bike Thief

to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33b

My bike was stolen out of our garage last week. It happened right in front of my eyes. I watched the young man walk by our house. It seemed strange he would be in our neighborhood at this time of the day. He did not appear to be exercising, nor was he headed in a direction for work. Not wanting to judge my neighbor’s intent, I didn’t go outside to make my presence known. Instead, I remained in my chair writing my devotion. Next thing I know, he’s riding my bike away as I watch from the window.

This was the first time we have ever been robbed. A remarkable claim given the places we have lived. In Brooklyn, people were shot right outside our house. In Iowa, as nice as it may seem, one neighbor’s house was raided for drug dealing, another for running illegal guns.

The difference in our current neighborhood is the significant socio-economic divide. At the bottom of the hill is low income housing. One does not have to be too streetwise to see the drug dealing taking place and feel the sense of despair. As you move up the hill, the houses get progressively nicer and more expensive. There is a definitive line separating these two worlds. A line that establishes us and them. This line was less definitive in the other places we’ve lived.

In today’s reading, the two people speaking are combatants. The scribe represents a group most judgmental and condemning of Jesus’ actions in scripture. Jesus is equally difficult on the scribes. He has spent this entire chapter criticizing the Temple leadership, like the scribes. So, it is significant that this scribe and Jesus agree on the importance of loving your neighbor.

Today, we live in a climate which continues strive for greater divisions. Walls are being built to divide left from right; rich from poor; and religious from non-religious. Just pick the classification and we have a division for it. It leaves me wondering, when did working for the common good become so distasteful?

No matter how I feel about my bike, one thing remains true. A young man who steals bikes does not have a bright future. He’s not a person whose life is overflowing with hope. This morning, I’m wondering how to love my bike thief neighbor. What can I do to change the climate of division in my neighborhood? It’s a question I ask of you as well.



Click to read: Mark 12: 28-34

Reflection Questions:

  • When has anger stood in the way of understanding your neighbor?
  • What’s the difference between tolerating bad acts and seeking to stop them using love?
  • How have you responded to being robbed?
  • What can you do to change the climate of division in your neighborhood?

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