Go, And Do The Same

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

And 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.”

And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”

And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37

Vincent van Gogh, 1890. Kröller-Müller Museum....

Vincent van Gogh, 1890. Kröller-Müller Museum. The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do Unto Others…

Those who attend church regularly might recognize this passage of scripture as “The Story of the Good Samaritan.” It is commonly used to teach Christians the Golden Rule; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The lawyer asks Jesus a question that he knew the answer to. He was after all a lawyer. He had studied the law and knew exactly what it said. The problem was not in his understanding; his problem was that he was seeking a way around obeying the scripture. This lawyer understood his responsibility to reach out to those in need. He knew what God’s Word said; he just didn’t want to follow it.

We sometimes forget that Jesus (and the Jewish Law before him) placed as much emphasis on taking care of others as worshiping God. How could the Church’s influence change if we sought to take care of those in need? We spend so much time taking care of the needs of the Church that we sometimes forget about the needs of our communities and neighbors.

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? James 2:15

The term neighbor has certainly lost a great deal of its meaning over the last few generations. One of my favorite movies of all time is The Sandlot. It is one of those fun movies that would never be made today. The Sandlot is about a bunch of kids playing baseball over the summer of 1962. One scene shows the boys leaving their homes on July 4th to go play ball under the fireworks. You see the characters running through their neighborhood and all the people have set up tables with food in the middle of the streets. Their neighborhood was celebrating the Fourth of July together. People lived as communities back then. I was born in the early 80s and I have always wondered what it would have been like to have grown up in those earlier generations. Today we barely know the people who live around us, and we are definitely not familiar with their needs. But Jesus said that taking care of our neighbors is equal to worshiping God.

God Will Teach You to Love

As a young Christian, I read and studied God’s Word more than most kids my age. I do not say that to brag; I was not reading for enlightenment or to grow. I read because I was afraid of an eternal punishment in hell and needed to make sure that faith in Jesus alone was all that I needed to be spared everlasting torment. I was convinced there had to be some responsibility on my part that I was missing. Weekly church attendance, don’t eat pork, never watch a rated-R movie… something! Because of my fear I spent more time reading verses that dealt with spiritual growth and paid little attention to the sections about relationships with others. I felt that it was more important to take care of myself first.

When I did come to a believing faith in Jesus, I began to better understand the scriptures that spoke about family, friends, and neighbors. The Holy Spirit started to cultivate within my heart a compassion for others. I started to care more for those imprisoned by addiction, I found my heart breaking for those who cared more about their worldly obsessions than God’s promises, and I realized that if I wouldn’t reach out to that guy on the side of the road, who would? If you want to grow closer to God and experience the abundant life; then you have to allow him to soften your heart for those that our society would rather look past.

Made to Love

You see, if you are a disciple of Jesus than you know there is more to this life than the daily cares that we allow to bind us. The Bible says that God doesn’t want anybody to go to hell. Life isn’t about missing hell. Life is about gaining God’s favor. Life is about experiencing the creator of the universe. Life is about understanding that he loves us, not with a circumstantial love like we often experience in this life. But a REAL love that “surpasses all understanding.” If we have been blessed with this amazing position in life; how can we ever keep it for ourselves? How can we ignore those who are hurting? How do we turn our heads at injustice?

We cannot.

We must scream it from the rooftops. We must share it with our family, our friends, co-workers, acquaintances, our dentist, our mechanic, and the girl at Kroger’s, anyone who will listen.

There is a creator and he loves you!

God does not want anyone to experience hardship in this life on their own. He wishes for everyone to experience his love and peace during suffering. God offers comfort despite our troubles in this life. To the lost world whose blindness doesn’t allow them to acknowledge God’s love, he has sent us to be his ambassadors. We have been tasked with loving them through their pain, reaching out to them during their sorrow, so we have the opportunity to credit God and his love.

Jesus instructed the lawyer to “go, and do like wise.” This is what he instructs his Church to do. We cannot sit in our pews content that we have made the list while the world desperately needs Jesus in their lives. We have been commissioned to be his hands and feet. We have been called to live our lives in a manner that sets us apart. We have been called not to judge the world, but to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Messiah.

Do not allow your neighbor to suffer on the side of the road. Reach down, pick them up, and be a good neighbor.

 

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About Mitchell Norton
My life was changed when God saw fit to forgive me of my rebellion against him. I am not worthy of a righteous God, and I am thankful that he reached out to me. My walk with the Lord has lead me to understand that loving others is just as important as loving God. I am a husband to a beautiful wife, father to an adorable daughter (and one on the way!), and servent of the Gospel. I am not perfect, but one day I will be. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence." - Jeremiah 17:7

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