Don’t Pass By
In Luke 10, a lawyer (an expert in biblical law) asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds: “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.” The lawyer is a smart man, he knows the definition of “neighbor”, yet he still asks Jesus to clarify, “Who is my neighbor?”. Luke 10:29 says he asks this hoping to “justify himself”, in other words he’s looking for a “loophole”, an “out”, an “exception to the rule” that might limit who he is called to love.
So Jesus goes on to tell a story about a man on a journey who is robbed and beaten, left to die. He’s in desperate need and 2 religious people “see him” and “pass by”. Jesus specifically says they “saw him”, making the point that they were aware of the need, but chose to ignore it. And here’s where the story gets crazy: he says a “Samaritan” is the one who, not only doesn’t pass by, but helps this man in need.
Here’s why that’s crazy: Samaritans were outcasts themselves. They were the people you didn’t stop to help, you didn’t include in social or religious settings (John 4:9), the people you would never consider your “neighbor”. In fact, John 8:48 tells us that Jesus was called a “Samaritan” (and demon-possessed) as an insult. Yet when Jesus seeks to explain what it means to love your neighbor, he uses a Samaritan as the example. Why?
Jesus is making 2 points here:
- #1: “Loving your neighbor” can often mean loving people you wouldn’t normally love. Loving people who may not be like you. Loving people who may even be seen as your “enemies” (Luke 6:27).
- #2: We can know what the bible says, we can even be considered “experts” in the commands of God, but fail in the most important command to love God and love our neighbor.
Our calling as the church is to love those in need, to love our neighbor. This includes people who are like us and people who aren’t. It includes people who were born here and people who were not. When we say “Love Moves”, it’s not a mushy, trite statement that we just throw on a t-shirt because it sounds good. No, it’s the call of the people of God. It’s a love that seeks out the broken, serves the hurting, and speaks up for those in need.
Church, don’t pass by. Don’t “see” and ignore, or “see” and walk the other way. May we be a people who continue to declare and demonstrate the love of Jesus to all nations, races, and social classes. May we be a people who don’t ask “Who is my neighbor?”, but rather “How can we love our neighbors well?”