Monday, March 29, 2010

Following Jesus - The Good Samaritan

The parable of the good Samaritan is not really just about health care. It is one of those parables, the teachings of Jesus, that many people touch very lightly. Jesus said a lot of things that people touch very lightly. If you push too hard, dig too deep into the heart intent behind a lot of things that Jesus said, you could get hurt. Well, maybe not you, but your schedule, your wallet, your perception of yourself and others. Touching Jesus' words lightly to avoid hitting the root of what He was saying is not an easy feat, simply because Jesus was so clear in many of His statements. We sometimes have to resort to full-blown denial to be able to nurture some of the attitudes that we do while still claiming to love and follow the Jesus who told parables like this one.

The issue is not how well we do what Jesus asks of us. It is whether we believe we need to do it at all. When disciples of Jesus read the parable of the good Samaritan, they understand that Jesus is calling for radical giving, not just to friends and family, but to enemies, as the wounded Jewish man would have been to his Samaritan helper. Disciples understand this, believe it, and even want to live this out. The living it out is hard, though. Disciples soon find this out. But they continue to believe that Jesus was serious about it, and so even when it hurts, they pray for strength and guidance and keep following Jesus in this matter, even if the walk is a stumbling one.

Rule followers debate what Jesus meant by this parable. They talk about what the Jewish/Samaritan equivalent is in our day, so as to pinpoint who exactly we have to be a neighbor to. If they talk about it long enough, they may find that it is impractical in this day and age to act as the Samaritan did, that there are safety issues to consider, that other verses (usually Old Test. ones) give a clearer indication of what Jesus meant.

Rule followers examine, evaluate and autopsy Jesus' words until they are comfortable with them. Disciples take Jesus' words at face value and realize they may never be comfortable again. And still they follow.

If you have been keeping up with this series on following I admire your perseverance. I read a quote once that said an appropriate fast for preachers is a fast of words. I think it also applies to writers. I know it applies to me. I am going to make an effort to write shorter posts, to be more concise and to try to make these posts easier to read. I really have no plan as far as content goes. I think, I pray, I read, I observe, and God seems to be pulling it together for me. I am grateful to Him. I'm still thinking and praying about the parable of the Good Samaritan, as it pertains to the issue of health care, yes, but more importantly, how it illustrates for us what is required from a disciple of Jesus Christ. At the same time, we will look at what rule-following looks like in the light of verses like these.

I want to thank those who are reading these entries, and to tell you that I am honored and blessed by your presence here on this page. I write for an audience of One, my God, the only One that I seek to please. It's expected that He's paying attention - He's my God, He has to love me and read my writing. Anyone else who reads what I write is a gift. I am grateful for you. Thank you.

So, if you want to read the parable of the Good Samaritan, it's in Luke 10:25 - 37. It's an important parable. Any time our rabbi says "Go and do likewise", it's a wise thing to know what exactly He is telling us to go do!

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