Last week, we talked about how Jesus wants us to love one another with radical love.
Specifically, He said to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The legalistic expert in the law who was testing Jesus at the time asked, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus Pushes Us to Love Bigger
The expert in the law lived according to a list of rules. He liked to keep his life neat and tidy. No loose ends. No messy risks. He wanted to wrap God up in a nice box and be on his way.
The expert in the law liked to keep things under control. I can relate.
But God won’t stay in our box.
In response to the expert’s question, Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan. In His story, a man is robbed, beaten and left half dead along the road.
A priest and a Levite (the religious people of the day) pass by and see the man needing help, but they avoid him staying completely on the opposite side of the road. They don’t want to get involved. Helping the man will take them outside their comfort zone.
Of course, the Good Samaritan helps. He cleans the man up, takes him to a place where he can heal and pays for it all.
Jesus says, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
Jesus was forcing the expert in the law to face some cold hard facts about his religion. He loved his laws (his comfort zone) more than he loved people. Dare I say this? I think some of us might be in a similar boat. Ouch.
I Am Too Much Like the Priest and Levite
The priest and the Levite avoided the robbed man because of his “uncleanness” (read this for an explanation) which would probably lead to some inconvenience and might also cause them some reputation trouble with other religious people.
I’m sad to say that I’m often a lot like these self-righteous, religious folks myself.
Loving people means getting involved. Getting involved means that things might get messy. Messy is where things get inconvenient.
If I see a driver broke down on the side of the road, I usually continue right past because it might take up too much of my time, it might be dangerous, it might get complicated, etc.
If I see a homeless person, I make sure my car doors are locked and I avoid eye contact because they might be a scam artist, helping them might be difficult, it might feel awkward, I might catch something, etc.
I’m not proud of these things. I’m just being honest. I often don’t like to get involved. I certainly need a renewing of my mind in this area.
I really admire what a Clarksville, TN pastor did to learn to love his neighbors. You should definitely check out his story. It convicted me.
Love Is More Than a Feeling
The story of the Good Samaritan also reveals to us that love is more than a feeling. Good intentions aren’t enough. Sympathy is not enough.
Truly I tell you, whatever you DID for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40 NIV emphasis mine
Loving people as Jesus did means getting your hands dirty. It means hanging out with sinners, reaching out to lepers, feeding the hungry and restoring sight to the blind.
After all, wouldn’t you want someone to do this for you if the tables were turned?
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I can do better. How about you?