Welcome back to our road trip, our journey of discovery, as we examine that little theory of mine. We’ve been travelling along, and up to this point, we have made several stops where we were able to look at certain aspects of the theory. Today is the changeover, for up to this point, we’ve been looking at things people do that get in the way of their spiritual lives, but from here, as we turn into the home stretch, we will consider the counter-intuitive life of following our Lord Jesus Christ. To refresh your memory, here’s the theory again:
“Christian theology is not particularly difficult to understand. Its precepts and premises are fairly simple, it was given to “regular” guys to share with the world, and they did it. Yes, of course they had a lot of help from the Holy Spirit, but then so do we. Yet we love to argue, follow tradition and form to avoid spiritual growth and reaching out, because they are counter-intuitive, and the fact that they are counter-intuitive is exactly the point of all things being new, for our human intuition isn’t new, it’s the old thing that Jesus died to free us from.”
The things I mentioned here that are counter-intuitive are “spiritual growth,” and “reaching out.” In truth, you really can’t separate the two, for growing spiritually will almost automatically cause us to reach out to others for Christ. Let’s begin this part of our discovery by taking a look at the most fundamental of all of the teachings of our Lord.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor 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.”
Luke 10:36-37, larger context, Luke 10:25-37
I’m sure that you recognize this as the final two verses of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus told a story about a man who was attacked, robbed, beaten and left for dead out on a highway. As the man lay there on the road, passers-by stepped right over him, but did not offer any help, not even the religious leader, until a lowly, unclean Samaritan gave the man aid and comfort. It must have been hard for the expert in the law who was trying to trap Jesus in this conversation to concede who the “neighbor” was, and you might have noticed that he didn’t mention the word “Samaritan” in doing so.
The exchange begins when the expert in the Law asked Jesus a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (10:25) and Jesus responds with a question of his own: What is written in the Law?” (10:26) and the expert replies in verse 27 by reciting the “greatest commandment” that you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and then he adds that you shall love your neighbor as your self. He follows up with another question, “Who is my neighbor?” (10:29) and so Jesus answers with the parable…
Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor; this is Christian theology in a nutshell, the very heart and core of our faith. It is so easy to say, but make no mistake, it has far-reaching implications!
You see, if we really love God like that, and He loves all of His children as He loves us, and was willing to send His Son to die, as Jesus says in John 3:16, then we must love all His children as He does, and as He loves us. Forget all of the arguments and debates, forget all of the social and class distinctions! Forget about being comfortable all the time and about what somebody else might think. We must love our neighbor, even the one who is unlovely. Now, consider that while you were still in your sins, God sent Jesus to die for you, so great was His love, (Rom. 5:8) how can either you or I sit by while even one more of our neighbors dies without Jesus Christ?
Why do we linger? Why do we step over the injured and keep on walking? Why do we look the other way? Why do we continue to look to our traditions, our customs, our forms of religion and our ceremonies? Have they ever saved even one single child of God who was broken out there in the street, or in the neighborhood?
No! Not even one time! Those things don’t save anybody, only relationship with God through Jesus Christ can do that, and oh how marvelous that relationship is!
My focus has shifted as you can see, from that which holds us back from this relationship to how incredibly awesome the relationship is. It is loving, safe, secure, marvelous, miraculous and holy. It is unlimited, eternal and full of possibility. In short, it is the most satisfying, the most fulfilling and the most… counter-intuitive thing that a human being can ever become involved in, and it is sitting right there waiting for us to grab hold of it, just as soon as we can stop holding on to the things that distract us.
Wow, what a way to start a Monday, considering the awesomeness of our relationship with the very God who created the universe! I pray that you’ll go through the entire day with these things on your heart, and I’ll see you back here later, when we make our next stop, where we will take a look at why we would give everything else up to serve our Lord.