A Prayer Prompted by Luke 10

Father in Heaven,

Thank you for revealing yourself to us even though we are not the great, mighty or wise of this world. If the last will be first, and so on, then we are happy to take the lower place now if it means that we get to know you.

As Jesus tells us, the harvest is large and the laborers are few. We pray earnestly that you would send laborers into your harvest.

Like the seventy-two, we can see that all of us can play a part in the task of mission. Help us to receive you sincerely knowing that we also need to be ready to be sent.

And then help us to be ready to serve our neighbor in need, no matter who that neighbor is.

Finally, make us the kind of people who will listen to and learn from Jesus. Even as we serve, we never want our work to somehow stand in the way of our relationship with him.

In Christ,

Amen.

And who is my neighbor? – Luke 10:25-37

The story begins with a lawyer asking about eternal life.  When Jesus asks him what is written in the law, he responds with the answer Jesus himself has given in Matthew 22 and Mark 12.  My personal opinion is that this was a little bit of a setup.  The lawyer wanted to give Jesus an answer he knew he would like, so that he could ask his next question.  So in 10:29 he, “desiring to justify himself,” now asks, “And who is my neighbor?”  A narrow definition of neighbor can make “Love your neighbor” an easy command to obey, but Jesus was not about to limit his definition.  

He now tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  A man is attacked by robbers.  A priest and a Levite both pass by “on the other side.”  A Samaritan comes along and helps.  To digest the parable’s full meaning we have to remind ourselves that Samaritans and Jews typically hated each other.  They were both ethnic and religious rivals, and the mixed-race Samaritans only appeared in the land after the norther tribes of Israel were dragged off into exile.

If Jesus told the story today in Israel today, he might say “Along came a Palestinian Arab …” When Christ asks his final question (10:36), “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” the lawyer gets it right. “The one who showed him mercy.”  Then Jesus delivers his punchline (10:37), “You go, and do likewise.”

To find a proper application for “Go and do likewise,” it might help to think of someone we dislike or someone we believe dislikes us.  Who really irritates you?  Who do you feel most uncomfortable around?  Who do you suspect feels uncomfortable around you?  Who is to you an ethnic and/or religious rival?  What about the atheist next door?  Now go and do likewise.  According to Jesus, the “neighbor” we need to love most may come to us dressed as our enemy in need.

A Prayer Prompted by Mark 12

Heavenly Father,

We learn from Jesus in this chapter that our lives need to be totally committed to you. Help us to love you with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind and all of our strength.

Help us to love our neighbor as ourselves – to put the needs of others, even our enemies, on the same level as our own.

Help us to be good citizens, faithful taxpayers, loyal participants in the life of our earthly community.

But help us also to remember that we owe you so much more – that in fact we personally belong to you.

Help us never to desire a reputation for being more godly or more spiritual than we really are.

Jesus was an example of humility and we will do well if we continuously follow him in that – knowing that he is truly God and the author of our salvation.

In Christ’s name we pray,

Amen.

 

Matthew 22 Verse by Verse

Matt photoDuring the week leading up to the crucifixion, Jesus tells some parables and fields questions designed to test him.  In the end he asks a question which discourages further such tests.

Matthew 22.pdf

Matthew 22.mp3

A Shared Standard: The Law of Love – Leviticus 19, Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Unity, Diversity and Our Identity in Christdiversity
Part 4 of 14

The Standard God sets for his people is one based on commandments to love.

A Shared Standard Lev 19, Deu 6.pdf             

A Shared Standard Lev 19, Deu 6.mp3

 

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildrose115/27623264486

Central Streaming: Love Fulfills the Law

Paul’s Letter to the Romansapostle-paul

When we love others, we want what is best for them.  Loving our neighbor as ourselves includes all the basic commandments and more.

Romans 13.8-10.pdf

Romans 13.8-10.mp3

Central Streaming: Genuine Love

Paul’s Letter to the Romansapostle-paul

We tend to think of love as an emotion or something completely connected to our feelings.  The Bible sees it somewhat differently, as Paul in this passage explains.

Romans 12.09-21.pdf

Romans 12.9-21.mp3