One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied,“What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:25-29 (NLT)
Oh, how I look for some wiggle room just like this “expert.” And what does Jesus answer regarding the identity of my neighbor?
Jesus tells the story of a man (Phil) who is mugged and left for dead on the side of the road. A pastor and a deacon are also out walking during their lunch hour and both ignored Phil because they could tell he was – gay? A drug addict? A Democratic president? A Republican senator? A young praise and worship leader, Alex, in jeans with a scruffy beard who belongs to that new non-denominational group who meets on the beach, rode his bike down the same lane and he stops. He rips his clean extra t-shirt he has in his guitar case and makes a bandage and then flags down a cab. Alex takes Phil to the local Emergi-center for care and even pays the $100 deductible. Other members, Sal and Virginia, a sweet elderly couple, comes in answer to Alex’s call and take Phil to their home to rest and recover for a few days before he returns to Washington. Phil won’t be joining their church and he won’t be paying any tithes. But he will remember how Jesus took care of him when he needed Him.
Who is my neighbor? Who do I see begging on the side of the road and make the call not to help? How many teenagers want to hang out together, eat pizza and ask questions about the Bible and Jesus but aren’t welcomed and nurtured because they do not have parents who are members of my church? Who is my neighbor?
Who did Jesus minister to? Were they all Jews, members of His faith? No. Were they all well-behaved men? No. Did other people approve of who Jesus fraternized with? No. Jesus fed the bodies and souls of people who were hungry. He did not drag people in to listen and He did not throw people out because they were sinners. Jesus said He came to heal the sick and the sinners (Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17), not the righteous.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am His follower. I am His ambassador. What will I do? If I say I am willing, are there any conditions to my answer to His call on my life?
Not everyone reading this has been gifted to physically care for someone who is ill. But all have been called to do something. It may be writing a card of encouragement. We may join a fellowship group and invite someone who is lonely or provide a dish for someone who has no money to bring a dish themselves.
May we feel the conviction of the LORD to stop our excuses and step closer in our relationship with Jesus. We complain about what everyone else isn’t doing to please God but Jesus wasn’t about correcting the government or the atheists. Jesus wants me to get my spiritual life in order so I can testify to what He has done in my life.
They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love written by Father Peter Scholtes & sung by Jars of Clay