Sunday, February 13, 2011

Compelling Love

I am realizing how undeserving I am of the love of God. It's one of those concepts that I will NEVER grasp and even talking about it sets me up for an unending quest for complete understanding. 

God gave His son, perfect, blameless, most holy, for ME. I want to know this love more. I want to drown in it, completely.
God wants me to feel, taste, smell and touch his love. I have been asking myself the last few days how I can have more of this and the only answer I see fit is to love others.

What a simple others. 

Last year I heard the story of the "Good Samaritan" so different than ever before. After I heard the teaching I began reading commentaries on it & researching things online till I came to understand in the way I believe it was intended to be understood...

When Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan he was answering my question. (Luke 10:25-37)

Sunday school did a fabulous job of watering down a tough picture Jesus painted. A story meant to make our core tremble, I believe.

A man asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded by asking what the law said. The law said, "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 neighbor as yourself."

The man preceded to ask, "Who is my neighbor?"

 Jesus tells a story of a man who is almost dead (key words) who is on the road to Jerusalem from Jericho. 

Research what this road looked like. The road was maybe 16-18" wide and dropped off a 300 ft. cliff. Jesus says 3 different men walked by.

Man #1: A priest
Jesus said the priest walked on the other side of the road. There was no "other side of the road"! He's trying to make the point that this priest did EVERYTHING he could not to touch this man.

Why?? Because the Torah told him to! 
Leviticus says a person could not touch a dead body or a nearly dead body no matter who they were. How funny that as Christians, we blast this guy...but he knew the text! Jesus' words are intentional when he says the man was "nearly dead".

This man obeyed God although he made the commandment of not touching a dead body greater than loving your neighbor. 

Man #2: A Levite
Next came a Levite who did the same thing. A Levite read the same book as the priest, the Torah and he obeyed God too. 


The next person the people probably expected Jesus to say was a Pharisee...the Pharisees were people who said, "all people except Samaritans are in God's image." 

The Pharisee knew that loving your neighbor was the ultimate command. The audience was probably expecting Jesus to bring his point home by saying, "the Pharisee is your neighbor, so love him too."

Jesus totally throws them for a loop because the 3rd person is not a Pharisee, he is a Samaritan. Jews HATED Samaritans.

A Samaritan read the same Torah a Jew read. The Torah told him not to touch the dead body too. 

The Samaritan is on his knees, touching this dying man's bloody wounds, putting him on his donkey...what this Samaritan did was so filthy & so wrong according to the Torah but he knew that loving his neighbor was a greater command.

What is Jesus' main point? I've been taught to assume the neighbor is the beaten up guy, the easy one to love. 

The parable is not about doing good things for people, it's about loving the person you hate the most. The Samaritan is my neighbor. 

If I can't go to the person I despise most and learn to love them then I can't even be a disciple of Jesus because he ends the parable by saying, "unless your righteousness is even greater than the Pharisee's you can't even enter my kingdom". Yes, the Pharisee who would have helped the dying man!

If I am going to be a disciple of Jesus I ought to respond in obedience to his commands. Not because it saves me but because I am saved. 

This is how God is telling me to feel, taste, smell and touch his love. 

All because the text says, "love your neighbor."

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