The [expert in religious law] wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor” – Luke 10:29 (NLT)
Here I am, reading along and preparing for my Sunday sermon, feeling good about myself because I’m the pastor and a handful of people will get out of bed early and listen to me expound upon the Word of God, when it starts to occur to me I’m not as good as I like to think. In fact, sometimes I’m too religious for my own good, and it took a long-dead lawyer to get me to take a hard look at myself.
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), a lawyer challenges Jesus with the question, “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replies, “How do you read it?” And the lawyer goes on to give the acceptable church answer: Love God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. “Great,” responds Jesus, “do it and live.”
The lawyer should have left well enough alone, but he goes on and tries to justify the way he treats others. Eugene Peterson says, “Looking for a loophole,” the lawyer asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ answer tells the lawyer he is asking the wrong question. We should not be concerned with writing a short list called, These Folks Are Acceptable Neighbors. Instead, we should ask the question, “What kind of neighbor am I?”
I’d like to think this parable gives the lawyer a tough time, and it does, but it is actually tougher on me than I like to admit. If I’m really honest, I’ll admit that I’m more like the lawyer than the Samaritan. Continue Reading