What! He’s my Neighbour?
In Luke 10:25-37 we read that an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus and he asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
After establishing that the Law requires us to 'Love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind', and to 'Love our neighbour as ourself', the lawyer asked Jesus
"And who is my neighbour?"
In reply Jesus told the well known story of the Good Samaritan.
Who is my neighbour?
The Lawyer had shown himself to be very much in tune with his religious duties. His summary of the Ten Commandments earned Jesus' commendation. But he let the side down when he asked the question
"And who is my Neighbour?"
Why? Because he exposed the fact
that he had prejudices.
Jesus recognised this and challenged his prejudices head on with the story of the Good Samaritan - a 'Samaritan' of all people!
Prejudice is marked by
Personal pride is considering oneself, or one’s way of doing things etc., better than others. And Christians aren’t exempt from this.
As Christians we can be happy in our doctrinal boxes – in some cases certain we’ll be the only ones in heaven! It’s tragic the divisions between Biblical Christians who agree on all the fundamental points but won’t accept each other over other ‘points of doctrine’. We can be proud of our ‘positions’ and fearful of being contaminated or appearing to be wrongly associated. No wonder the church is so weak.
How many Christians and Christian organisations pass by on the other side?
Some Christians won’t even vote in a general election because there isn’t a political party where they can tick every box. As a result the country goes to the dogs.
As individuals we can be happy in the safety of our comfort zones, what we are used to and expect. We find it difficult to understand, or relate to, or cope with those outside our 'club'. There is a fear of that which doesn't conform to our comfort zone.
Prejudice and fear go together.
The Lawyer was completely at home in his Jewish community but fearful of and prejudiced against those outside.
And what is the result? Judgement of the other person, or persons.
As James says Christians mustn’t behave like this (James 2:1-4).
Prejudice is marked by
blindness to the truth
“Who does this Jesus think he is?” People were offended by him because he broke their religious rules. The people from his hometown thought they knew him - the carpenter from
Baalam was so blind to God's will and purposes he had a conversation with his ass!!!
We can be blind too because of an idea we have about someone or something. We can be part of a 2000 year old tradition of missing out on what God is saying or doing because of prejudice or preconceived ideas.
James Moffatt (1811 - 1890) said…"Great as is the power of God, he cannot work in a vacuum or with empty minds or with hearts filled with prejudice."
Prejudice is marked by a
lack of real love
The lawyer considered Samaritans inferior and therefore the last person he thought capable of offering help to the man in Jesus' story.
In fact, the lawyer couldn’t even say
the word ‘Samaritan’.
His attitude meant he couldn't do the very thing he said was necessary for eternal life - love his neighbour. He was just like the Levite and Priest in Jesus story – He made his excuses…
Are we any different?
When confronted with the challenge of reaching out to others do we ask the same question, ‘who is my neighbour’? Do any of the following excuses ring bells?
‘They don't deserve help.’
‘They got themselves into this mess, let them get themselves out of it.’
‘We don't have any poor people
amongst our friends.’
‘I have my own needs.’
‘Any money I give them will be wasted, stolen, or spent on other things.’
‘I don't know where to start and
I don't have the time.’
Walk the talk
Jesus didn't enter into debate with the Lawyer but he helped him come to terms with his prejudices. Then, his only answer to the one who wanted to know how to inherit eternal life was "Go and do likewise".
George Bernard Shaw said,
‘There are those that can do, and those that can't do, teach instead.’
It's so easy to be a ‘teacher’, able to talk about God, and yet be a hearer only when it comes to the application of God's Word in our own lives.
The lawyer went to a good Bible believing church where the scriptures were expounded every Sunday. His doctrine was impeccable. He could hold his own in any debate and knew how to recognise those who were off limits.
But he didn’t know how to 'Love the Lord his God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength and with all his mind'!
And he didn’t know how to
'Love his neighbour as himself'!
If we’re to ‘love our neighbour as our self’ we need to be doers of the Word also (see James 1:22). The Apostle John says… This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth (1John 3:17-18).
In other words -
"Go and do likewise"
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