Although these words could literally mean “the person next door,” in this context, we are referring to a “Luke 10” type of neighbor. It’s fine to talk about “reaching the homeless” or “caring for the orphan,” but we must be careful not to define our neighbors by their situation, instead of by God’s design for them. Every person—no matter how desperate or broken—was created to bear God’s image.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. —Acts 20:2