the good samaritan

20Sep11

Last Sunday, at the Covenant Church we are a part of, the sermon was on the parable of the good samaritan. A story many people have heard, probably dozens of times if you grew up in a christian community, etc. What I loved about hearing it this time around was how our pastor presented it in a culturally rich, confrontational and self-reflective way.

I had never known so much about the one who was testing Christ in this parable, how Christ tended to respond by question and how the challenger at the end wasn’t able to clearly admit, or even say the ‘name’ of who the true neighbor was in the situation, rather he could only mutter “The one who had mercy on him.

I hadn’t felt the Holy Spirit so present in my heart during a time of teaching as this in a while. Personally, I pride myself on being a child of God who accepts that people of other, little or no faith can still bring glory to God. This pride is not good. Not in the sense of all people having the opportunity or ability to bring glory to God, but more that I think highly of myself for believing this. This is pride. Getting high off the thought that what you believe is what scripture and God teaches can be extremely dangerous. This is something I feel I will struggle with my entire life. Like many, I feel good when I think (or think I know) I’m right. It’s dangerous.

To love is to live through love, by action. Not thought. Not belief. Not solitary. This was humbling on many levels for me. I was facing this teaching in a way that I never had before. I wasn’t necesarrily  questioning the core intent of this parable, but the prideful feelings that drown me as I listened.

At the end of the parable, and the sermon, our pastor pointed out a new interpretation (to me) of Christ’s question, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The challenger replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” The interpretation was that this wise, expert of the law felt guilt and shame, forced to deal with his pride. He thinks he knows, and he might believe what is right, but his actions did not reflect this. And he felt ashamed to know that the samaritan, one who likely believed something different than he (in our modern culture, possibly a mormon, jehova’s witness, muslim, buddhist. etc.) did the loving thing that brought glory to God.

At our church, after the sermon, we enter a time of discussion, reminiscent of a college lecture/discussion-type setting. The question of who we should be a neighbor to, or for how many people we should be a neighbor to came up. We talked about it, expressing feelings of being overwhelmed, or not sure where to cut off our willingness to be a neighbor to someone, because obviously, one person does not have the capacity to love and be a true neighbor to everyone. And then, it was said, don’t ask who you should be a neighbor for, rather, just be. Be a neighbor.

Being is action. It doesn’t matter what you think or believe, or how righteous you think you are. Be a neighbor. To all and any that you pass. For there will shine the love and glory of Christ. You can feel as good as you want believeing and hoping for others, but we must act, through love and faith, knowing that the Holy Spirit is with us. Always.

peace, kevin.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c]and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

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One Response to “the good samaritan”

  1. 1 Brittany

    Good stuff, Kevin! Oh how I miss ECC…those discussions are my favorite part! I am excited to listen to this sermon when it gets uploaded! Miss you guys lots!


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