Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jesus, The Good Samaritan

The Gospel reading for today, the Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity, was from Luke 10, the story of The Good Samaritan. Bishop Sutton preached a tremendous sermon on our Lord Jesus as that Good Samaritan. Jesus did what the religious leaders could not or would not: He descended into the ditch and brought the wounded man to safety, paying for that man to be nursed back to health. What the Good Samaritan did in the parable Christ did on the cross. Christ descended into the ditch of humanity so that we could be restored.

I was convicted. This parable is told in response to the question of what it means to love our neighbors. If my love for my neighbor can only be limited by Christ’s love for humanity, then is there really any boundary to the love I am to have? Christ went to the cross with full knowledge of the rejection He had already endured and would endure through the centuries. In fact, He promised His disciples that they would be persecuted for His sake. Despite that knowledge He entered the ditch for us. To truly follow Christ I also must be willing to endure rejection and persecution for the sake of loving my neighbor.

I’m struck with how often we out-source our love, though. What is our typical response when confronted with a person on the street who is hungry and in need of help? Our typical response is to point them in the direction of the nearest shelter while we wipe our hands of the encounter and go about our day. We justify it by convincing ourselves that the individual would have just used any monetary support we provide for booze or that it’s too dangerous to invite him or her into our car or home to help get them where they’re going or feed them ourselves. Granted, it is a dangerous world full of dishonest people, but that does not remove our responsibility. 

Remember what Hebrews 13:1-6 teaches:
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
"The Lord is my helper; 
I will not fear; 
what can man do to me?”  
If we remove the love of money and the fear of what man will do to us from our default outlook of life, how much more will we be able to love our neighbors as Christ loves us?

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