'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?"' -- Luke 10: 25-29 (ESV)
We have witnessed the erosion of America for the past few decades in direct proportion to the church sacrificing its moral authority on the altar of NAR political expediency. People shout canned talking points at each other through the protective barrier of social media. No one listens anymore. By compromising the Gospel of Jesus Christ the church has lost its moral compass. It no longer can tell right from wrong it would seem. Sin has infiltrated the church in most denominations and we see low hanging moral fruit such as the border crisis reveal a church not willing to cross carnal political lines even in the face of state sanctioned sin.
In reading this morning, the Holy Spirit led me to the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which the beginning of the story are found in the key verses above. We find a lawyer trying to test Jesus; much like the apostate church does every day. What is the bare minimum we must do to keep believing we have eternal life? Can we strip out sin and repentance from the Gospel? Can we compromise worship to the point of ridiculousness? Can we roll around on the ground laughing uncontrollably and call it revival? Can we trade in the surety of Scripture for the wickedness of human experience? Can we watch infants stripped from their mother's arms in the name of the state and pretend it is not evil? What Lord can we get away with?
Jesus has no intention of getting sucked into carnal matters beloved so He simply asks what is it we know? What is the grand answer from this knowledgeable lawyer? No matter how we try to pretend eternal life, our very soul, hinges upon works, or tithing, or insisting that the laws of the land we live in are paramount; we always come back to the two simple points made by God throughout the entire canon of Scripture. Love your God and love your neighbor. Do this and you shall live! Then in verse 29 we come to the truth upon which this parable rests. Desiring to justify himself. Wow. Desiring to justify himself he asks, and who is my neighbor? Surely it is not the one who does not look like me. Or the one who breaks my laws. Surely it cannot be the one who does not worship like me, pray like me or dress like me. If someone disobeyed the laws of my land surely Jesus would want me to call down fire from heaven to consume them! So who is my neighbor? What can I get away with? I treat the guy who lives next door to me great! The other parents on the PTA? I love them with the love of Christ! Wait a minute -- Muslims? Surely that is a bridge too far? Atheists who want to take away all of my rights as a Christian in this country? Please don't say them. Immigrants? But they're breaking the law! C'mon, who is really my neighbor? A question of such great import, that Jesus answered with a parable. Let's break it into three parts:
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. -- Luke 10: 30-32 (ESV)
The parable never tells us who this man was. What his nationality was. What his affiliation was. What his favorite news channel was. The reason why is none of that should matter to us in the face of the need. This man could have been anyone beloved. He is the definition of our neighbor. He fell among robbers who mugged him to within an inch of his life. So many have such similar need in this world. These circumstances left him lying in the gutter in a pool of his own blood, wondering if there was any compassion left in the world. The priest and the Levite represent the church beloved. They represent religion without the Gospel. Christianity without Christ. They see the need and cross to the other side. Most scholars agree that these were chosen because the audience was an expert at law. The priest and the Levite were two people he would have looked up to. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho was routinely traveled by temple workers such as priests and Levites thus lending credibility to the premise. The lawyer who asked the question would have already been making excuses for these two compatriots. If the priest was to come into contact with a corpse he would be considered unclean and the cleansing process was an arduous seven days. Surely the work of the Lord in the temple was more important for the Levite than this one injured man. Likewise the church is listening to political talking points to assuage that nagging conviction from the Holy Spirit about what is simply right and wrong. Surely the Lord would not endorse illegal activity! Aren't these people better served in their own country? Heaven has a wall and extreme vetting (yes I have seen this meme). All to excuse the inexcusable. To defend the indefensible. Enter the antihero:
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.' -- Luke 10: 33-35 (ESV)