Saturday 13 July 2019
Love God – Love All (Part 2)
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’
He answered, ‘“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, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’
‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’
In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’
The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’
Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
The expert in the law asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” The lawyer’s question suggests that he believed some people are neighbours while others are not. Jesus uses the parable of the Good Samaritan in response. We learn from the parable that the Levite and the priest who were perceived to be religious, ignored the man in need of help. However, the Samaritan, who would be considered irreligious, knew how to love his fellow human being- his neighbour. Jesus was talking about absolute obedience revealed in love and compassion.
The question is why did the Levite and the priest ignore the man who had been robbed? Perhaps he did not look like one of their own. Possibly they thought he was a criminal who received what he deserved. Maybe he was simply despised because of his circumstance. How many times have we ignored people because they don’t look like us or do not have things in common with us? How often have we neglected to show love to others because of our own preconceived prejudice about them?
The point of this parable is not only to determine who one’s neighbour is, but more importantly to be a good neighbour to all. Jesus raises the expectation; a neighbour is the person you have just met. That means everyone and anyone who is in need; the church goers and non-church goers. Anyone, irrespective of their religion or cultural background is to be loved and be shown true kindness. The colleague at work, the people on our streets, the people we meet on the bus, those we meet in the shops and on the street.
In other words, a neighbour is not only about people we share the same cultural, racial, social or educational identities with, but the vulnerable, the weak, the homeless, the prostitute and the destitute within our reach.
Striving to reach out in love to all those within our sphere of influence without expecting a repayment from them is what is required of us. It is about mirroring the heart of God. So, Jesus said:
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:32-36).
Eric K. Mensah – Sawyers Church Leadership Team.