I woke up the day after Thanksgiving with lower back issues. I was in significant pain, unless I was lying down. So I was in bed (or the hot tub) for a day and a half.
I am embarrassed by how much I enjoyed it. It gave me time to ponder…
This has been an interesting year for me and my faith. I have been exposed to far more people than ever before who have a Christian walk that looks different than mine. I can
possibly be accused of creating a homogenized environment.
Not totally. Maybe mostly.
My life often feels like it runs thematically. This season over and over again are these situations: One problem evaluated by two different perspectives. Not surprisingly, two different conclusions are made, and fought for, by the two wildly varying views.
It happens with my kids’ education.
It happens in politics.
It happens in current events.
And it happens in the church ESPECIALLY, it seems, about current events.
Recently an old friend, a new friend and I sat down with our Bibles wide open to discuss some differences in perspectives and theology. We asked questions of one another. We flipped through pages and looked at context. We opened my laptop to research original languages.
It was wonderful.
We agreed on many, many things and understood each other’s perspectives on others.
That result is shamefully rare. I wish there was that a million times over.
In this heartbreaking season of terrorism and refugees, I seem to swing my way into battles with people on every side. Sigh.
On one side, a close-the-borders-friend posted a meme asking whether a Muslim Nation would allow Christian refugees to come to their country.
Because I believe that is an irrelevant question for a Bible believing Christian, and because we had been in Bible study together for years, I told her so. I contend we establish our morality–that which is right or wrong–not on what another religion says, not on what political leaders say, but on what the Bible says.
That didn’t go over well.
On the other side I have heard (more times than I can count) believers, who are cautious and don’t want the refugees brought by the thousands to America, called “un-Christian” or “not-very Christian.”
Reading through the book of Luke, it occurred to me that God provides us with a beautiful third option right there in Scripture…The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
The 10th chapter tells the story of a businessman who is beaten, robbed, stripped and left for dead on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. A priest–someone who had chosen a life of faith as a profession–saw the victim and passed by on the other side of the road.
A Levite–someone who’s family history tied him to religious privilege and responsibility–also passed by on the opposite side of the road.
Each of them, by their inaction, decided the wounded, broken man was not their responsibility.
Any version of the story makes it abundantly clear that Jesus does not want us to be like the priest or the Levite.
The Samaritan bandaged him, put him on his beast and took him to an Inn, where he cared for him for a day. But as I read on, something really struck me. He then left him in the care of the Innkeeper, promising to pay for his needs.
He didn’t load the beaten man up and carry him off to a foreign land, far away from home. He lovingly cared for him where he was. He offered both his personal time and financial resources to help.
This is food for thought.
Another thing leapt off the pages of the book of Luke and seared its way into my consciousness. The story of Mary and Martha immediately follows.
I think Christians who want to serve the refugees in this country, who are so harshly judging those who don’t, should have a look. If I am serving, but my heart is judging, God is going to want me to change that.
Oh how I have lived that so many times over…
I think Christians who are shouting about terrorists and Radical Islamists should have a look at what is Jesus most radical teaching: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44.
Not my strength.
That Jesus. He doesn’t let me off the hook, but He does make me think that the Inn Keeper is the unsung hero of the parable. If I am the good samaritan, I need to make sure the Inn Keeper is financially able to do that work.
I must not look the other way when lives depend on it.
I must be willing to support help where people are, where they can get back home someday. I must not dismiss people who see things differently without working to bridge the gaps. I must base my beliefs and decisions on the teachings of Jesus, which means it doesn’t really matter if they are our enemies, or if they would not help me. I help because I love HIM.
That is the only option that matters.