Friday 8 July 2016

Luke 10 v.25/38

The bible passage for this week is one which has become part of religious folklore, the story of the Good Samaritan.

The word ‘love’ is one which many Church people like to hear, something soothing rather than worry about whether what they are doing is acceptable to God. In the secular world, thousands of songs about love have been written over the years, yet there seems to be a shortage of it in real life.

If anyone has the courage to speak out and make an adverse comment on one of the several minority factions, there is uproar and shouts of bigotry, but it is open season on mocking Christians.

We see violent barbarism perpetrated in the name of religion in the Middle East, and in our own nation and others in the Western way, there are broken homes, bitter divorces by men and women, who at one time professed much love for each other.

Jesus often faced people who wanted to catch Him out, just of course as we experience in Christian ministry. Oprah Winfrey once asked a leading American evangelist for his opinion on same sex marriage, hoping no doubt to lead him into a controversial debate. Wisely he answered that he didn’t have an opinion, it was his duty to tell what the Bible stated.

Such a sensitive question was once put to Martin Luther when he was asked what God was doing before He made the world, and Luther replied, ‘he was making hell for people who asked stupid questions’.

A lawyer asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, but was only trying to justify himself. Eternal life was meant to mean entering the Kingdom of God. Jesus saw the Old Testament as the unerring standard of faith and practice, so asked the man what did the Law state. When the man answered, Jesus told him to do what it said; namely loving God with all the heart mind and strength and one’s neighbour as oneself. In other words, having faith in God and seeking to please Him in all things with deep conviction and total devotion, and having concern for those in need.

The lawyer asked him ‘who is my neighbour’, merely to justify himself for ignoring some people, and Jesus went on to tell the parable of a man travelling through hostile countryside where robbers hid and attacked travellers. The man was badly injured and was passed on the road first by a priest and then a member of the tribe of Levi who both ignored what was thought to be a dead man, for anyone who touched a dead boy was considered unclean for seven days. There was also the possibility of it being a trap for people to stop.

A Samaritan man passed and saw the dead man (a Jew) lying there. Bearing it in mind the Jews and Samaritans hated other, and the Jews stated the only good Samaritan was a dead one, yet he got off his horse picked up the man and took him to an inn, and paid for his stay.

God looks upon us with the same compassion as the Samaritan did to the Jew. He sees us with filled with spiritual sickness unable to help ourselves, and as we lie impotent like the Jew and despite casting aide how He wants us to live according to His Word, He sent Jesus to the Cross and by the blood Jesus shed there, we are healed and cared for.

We are reminded that we live in a very evil world, where the vast majority are only concerned with themselves, ready to exploit by any means fair or foul, ways to obtain money. Television advertising is filled with lawyers tempting people to seek compensation on the back of the slightest mistake made by some business or a service, to a ready public with eyes blurred by £ or $ signs. And of course, lawyers to make money for themselves.

Christianity is often likened to utopian socialism, and whilst Christianity does have what might be described as the perfect theory for living, in the practical application people fail to uphold its creed. In fact, the professional socialists often prove to be more, or at least as, capitalistic as those they criticise.

The parable was told in response to a question from a lawyer as to how to obtain eternal life. Like many people he was confident he could earn his passport to heaven, and the moral of the story is that such is not possible. Jesus made it clear He was the only way to God, who is not interested in how successful we were in life, or how rich or influential we became, God just wants us to acknowledge we need to accept His Son as our Saviour and way to eternal life.

The question who is my neighbour, should be, ‘how do I become a neighbour’?

We all live busy lives, but this story calls on us to reflect if there is some person close to us, either in our family or circle of friends who is in need of some care or attention.

Especially we need to reflect on whether there is anyone in our Church with whom we may have a tense relationship. If there is, the words of Jesus to the lawyer apply, ‘go and do likewise’.

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