Dale’s neighborhood is home to many newcomers to his country. He loves the cultural richness but has felt a disconnection from it. So recently he prayed: “Lord, please use me to reach my neighborhood.” And he felt God’s simple, gentle nudge: Be a friend.

While biking one day, Dale saw a new neighbor, so he stopped and said hello to the man. The surprised individual invited him into his home. During a lengthy conversation, Dale learned of his new friend’s discomfort. The man felt that the citizens of his new country didn’t like him or didn’t want him living near them. It was as if people held him responsible for global events far beyond his control, simply because of his origins.

“You’re my neighbor!” Dale assured him. “You’re welcome here! If you need anything, here’s my number.” The man visibly relaxed. Then he smiled. A small but bold bridge had been built.

The story of the Good Samaritan is often interpreted to emphasize the kindness of the Samaritan. But Jesus was actually expanding God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). The religious leader wanted to know, “Who is my neighbor?” because he wanted to follow the letter of the law. Jesus pointed to the spirit of the law and in the process built a bold new bridge across an ethnic divide. The unlikely hero of His parable was “a despised Samaritan” (Luke 10:33).

Jesus built all kinds of bold bridges—bridges over long-standing racial barriers, between religious zealots and serial sinners, rich and poor, male and female. And when He redeemed us from our self-centered defiance against God, He built the boldest bridge of all—the one that spanned the chasm between God and His fallen creation.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 12:22-50