Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who is Your Neighbor?

I'm studying the book of Luke these day and today I read the story of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10: 25-37.  And the teacher raised a good point - even though his motives were to trick Jesus he asked, "Who is my neighbor?" 

Who is our neighbor?  Yes, those who live close to us are our neighbors, but maybe it is more than that.  That is what I think Jesus was trying to explain when he told the story of The Good Samaritan.   For those of you who don't know the story I'll give you a brief recap. 

A Jewish man is travelling when he is attacked by a group of thieves who beat him and steal all of his money.  Three people walk by this man, a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan.  Which of these men stopped to help the injured man?  The men of faith?  Sadly no, it was the Samaritan - who by most standards were considered outcasts to Jewish society in those days.  The man who should have wanted nothing to do with this Jewish man, helped him.  Not only this, but he helped tend his wounds, took him to an inn and paid the bill promising to pay to remainder balance upon his return so that the man would have a place to rest and recover.  

There are many times that we as Christians get bogged down with all of the laws and rules in the Bible.  We become so worried about focusing on Jesus we forget to be Jesus to those in the world in need of our grace and mercy.  James told us that faith without works is dead - and yet we all struggle to have faith while we also work.  Focusing on Christ should always be important and should also be our main goal.  But it's also important that we not forget the great commission that Jesus gave his disciples - go into the world and share the good news.    How can we share the good news if we neglect those who are in need of God's grace and mercy.

I am not just speaking about the homeless, I am talking to you about those who are gay, transgender, those who are prostitutes, strippers, homeless, mentally ill, alcoholics, gamblers, drug addicts - those that in today's society are the lowest of the low.   Jesus sat and ate with these people because he knew they needed His love, grace and mercy and would embrace it when they finally chose to accept it.  I think the biggest way we can bring others to Christ is by being Christ to others. 

Our Christian Thought professor, Scott Daniels raised a good point one day in class when we discussed homosexuality. . . he told us that it was important that we are God's grace and mercy to those living in a world that is with it.  Those words have stayed with me since that class and helped shape how I interact with others and while I know I fall short sometimes, I hope that I am the Samaritan more often than the priest or Levite to those in the world who are my neighbor. 

So who is our neighbor?  They are the woman in the store who is tired and heading home to take care of her family, the hooker on the street who believes that selling her body is the only way to be loved, the stripper who is taking off her clothing because it's good money - maybe to pay for college or maybe she just likes the money, it's the barista selling coffee in the Bikini Hut who chooses to not wear her top because she needs to have her job to pay the bills.  Your neighbor is the homeless family living on the streets, whether because someone they love is mentally ill or because they have hit hard times.  . . 

Will you be the good Samaritan today?  Or will you be the priest or Levite?

Love in Christ,

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