Monday, July 15, 2013

Love Thy Neighbor


Luke 10: 25 - 37 NAS

And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life ?" And He said to him, "What is written in the Law ? How does it read to you?" And he answered, "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND ; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." And He said to him, "You have answered correctly ; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE." But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor ?"   
Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. "And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. "Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. "But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. "On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.'  "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."

In the US a lot of children are victims of crime, whether it be abuse of any form or violence that involves weapons. Tragically some ending in death. The story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke gives us a great example of how we are to respond to victims. To love our neighbors means to care for those who are hurt. To ignore and walk past victims is to go against Jesus command to us as the priest and Levite did.

Luke 19: 1 - 10

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus ; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house." 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much." 9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."   

In the US there are many criminals. Some behind bars but some who walk free and hurt people with the crimes they commit. Zaccheus was one of those people. People in his community hated him. As a tax collector he took more than his fair share thus exploiting law abiding citizens and hurting their lively hood by leaving them with less money than they were entitled too. But here we see Jesus reaching out to Zaccheus. He loved this man, this swindler and went to his house. Did you catch the disgust of the people when they saw Jesus go to Zaccheus' house?

In the same way we are to care for the victims of crime in our community we are also called to love the criminals. Those who would do us wrong. This really hit home on Sunday morning after hearing the verdict in the Florida vs. George Zimmerman. I will be honest and say that I feel justice was not served. But in church on Sunday morning I was reminded by the sermon that God calls me to love everyone, my neighbor. 

We live in a divided country and the verdict only heightens that division. If the posts on facebook from my friends is any indication of the division then my opinion of our country is right on.  A few weeks ago, in my post My Last Words, I made a confession hat I have contributed to the political divide in this country and I want to now make a concerted effort to not do this again. I also want to encourage you to do the same.

There is no better time than now for us, a people of faith, believers in God and followers of Christ for us to respond in love to everyone regardless of their position concerning the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. What an amazing witness it could be if we chose to love rather than pick sides and dig our heels in the ground.

Will you join me? Can we chose this day to follow Jesus' teachings and love our neighbor? I will work towards that and pray that you will join me.