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BEYOND US AND THEM

Posted on Wed, Oct 29, 2008

Where has all the time gone?  I hope that you all are continuing to ask God for opportunities to "befriend, with the love of Christ, those whom God loves and has chosen, no matter what the cost."  Jesus tells a story of three men who were given the opportunity to serve. (Luke 10:25-37).  While two of them continued in their fears, one made a bold escape. Jesus was asked by a lawyer in the crowd, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"  Jesus' answer was essentially, "It's very practical.  Love God and love your fellow man." 
The man, wanting to minimize his level of responsibility asked.  "Why is my neighbor?"  Jesus replied with the parable of the good Samaritan:
 "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' 
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" 
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
 Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Jesus' answer to the question "Who is my neighbor?" was "Your neighbor is the person right in front of you with a need in his or her life."  Not matter what those people look like, even if they happen to be our natural enemies, we are called to show them the love of God.
Jesus tells us that the way we treat others displays the condition of our hearts.  In other words, the way we (the church)  treat them (the unchurched) serves as a litmus test of our spiritual health. 
Frankly, most of my Christian life has resembled the actions and attitudes of the priest and the Levite who walked right past the wounded man. The personal pain of the priest and Levite kept them away from life and focused on their own fears and myths.  I'm learning not to allow my pain to keep me paralyzed and sequestered from the world around me which is the object of God's love. 
True kingdom vision will always be people-centered.  The priest and Levite were inwardly centered, caught up in the rules and activities of their religious system.  They were in a hurry because they had programs to run.  Their programs appeared altogether worthwhile, even biblical and obedient, but these two men were ultimately corrupt because they didn't see people as being at the center of God's kingdom.
Talk to me about your walk of faith, and what God is showing you these days.  I'd love to hear from you.

Roy

 


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