Luke and the Lost
Worldview is all about finding loopholes in anything that is deemed appropriate to live well according to God’s law. Why do you think there are court cases galore, so many that they will go on until Jesus comes? Because we are always looking for a “way out”, a loophole to get around what is right and good in our behavior. There must be an easier way, we say, so we are always looking for loopholes around the grace that was so freely given to us. We are a sad lot, at times.
Yeah, but…is the name of the game. No matter what you tell a class of kids at school about anything, a hand will go up and the first two words out of their mouths is “Yeah, but…what if…”. These words and the selfish thinking behind it, is at the heart of finding loopholes in God’s law of grace and compassion for others. It’s been going on since Adam and Eve in the garden! The serpent (evil) told them, yeah, but if you eat the fruit you will become like God!” It was passed on to their boys. Remember, “Am I my brother’s keeper”, says Cain to Abel when God asked where Abel was, knowing that Cain had murdered him.
Genesis 4:6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
You are probably wondering why I am going back to the beginning of humans for this passage in Luke that talks about “Love your neighbor”, but I am reminded as I read that finding loopholes around God’s law of love has been going on since the beginning of humans. God is patient. Wow. He is so patient with us. Let’s read and really “get it” this time as Jesus deals with a “yeah, but-er”, a religion scholar, who should know better.
Luke 10, The Message
25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
Jesus’ story was perfect for this scholarly Jew, a hater of the lowest and despised Samaritans…the “least of these” in this Jew’s thinking. When you read the deeper meaning behind the story that is repeated in Sunday School classes often, you realize that there are no loopholes in God’s grace. We are to love everyone the way God loves us. No “yeah, buts” about it. We must “go and do the same” as Jesus would do and tells us to do.
We must love the unlovable in our lives and see what we can do quietly to make life a bit easier for them. We need to go beyond helping people we like and help the unlikely, who never entered our minds, before knowing Christ.
Grace. Mercy. Unconditional Love. No loopholes.
Our “neighbor” is the next person we have contact with in our lives today.
Dear Heavenly Father, You stand in the gap. You close all gaps in our thinking. There are no loopholes to fall into and crawl out of in Your law of “Love God, Love Others”. You are God and we are not. We love You. We are to love others the way You love us. You have taught us well this morning. By Your power, Your Love and Your grace and mercy in us, help us to see, not look away in disgust, but really see and help others in ways you have helped us. Thank you, Lord for Your challenging words. Continue to be with us…
In Jesus Name, Amen