Thursday, May 21, 2015

Who's my Neighbor today?

Lately I've been struggling with the thing I usually struggle with, which is disagreeing with people I care about and remembering that they are also people trying like heck to walk with God just like I am.   When someone ticks you off and you just want to burn the whole house of your friendship down over it (this is more than one person, usually is) until you calm down and remember that you didn't take your depression meds that morning..  no wait, I wasn't going to admit that.  Start over. 

When you get angry at your friend and realize that you need to pray for them like Christ
commanded because that's the right thing to do even when you're mad at someone.
Especially when you're mad at someone.  Particularly when you're angry.   That's when you need to do it most, because when you get angry at someone and stay that way, you stop seeing them as a brother or sister in Christ and start seeing them as a thing to be opposed.  Not as a person, but as a thing, and that's dangerous. 
Luke 10:25-37
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" 27 He answered, "You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
You ever want to reach through the pages of a book, or as the case was this morning, a webpage on the internet, and tell someone they really should quit while they're ahead?
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
And he had to ask.  
30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.
Keep in mind, in case you don't already know, that as far as the original audience of this story was concerned the Samaritan was the first century equivalent of a non-english speaking illegal alien who practiced Islam to a Fox News anchor.  What I'm trying to say is that the original audience really really didn't like Samaritans.  The reason they didn't like Samaritans?   They thought they got Judaism COMPLETELY wrong in every possible way.

34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'
This would be a viral video straight from heaven... and the world's most obvious question follows:
36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Who is your neighbor?   Usually, it's the person you don't like.   Most people are going to be kind to the people in their neighborhood that they get a long with.  It's that one person, the Samaritan.  The one who gets your religion wrong. The one who thinks differently from you.  Who votes for a different political party.   The one who leaves fresh fruit smashed on the street  in the heat of spring and just doesn't care that people on our block just aren't that kind of trashy.   The one who needs us, desperately, to love them even when we think they're wrong and remember that they too are made in the image of God.

That's your neighbor.  Show them mercy.

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