Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Following Jesus - The Good Samaritan

"Who is my neighbor?"

If we were to be truly honest, we would admit that we have all asked this question, in various forms. We've talked about loopholes, about defining the boundaries of certain principals so that we can know that there are indeed limits to how far we have to go. In general, boundaries are a good thing, except when applied to concepts that Jesus means to be boundless. Love is a boundless concept. This does not mean that behavior in relationships are boundless. Relational boundaries are not limits on love, but on behavior. In fact, relational boundaries are an expression of boundless love, if enacted with a loving heart.

The relationship between King Saul and David in 1 Samuel chapters 16 - 26 is a good example of boundless love and devotion expressed in clear, loving boundaries. King Saul becomes jealous of a young David. David is strong and brave on the battle field and popular among the people. He is also a devoted follower of God, and faithful to his king. Saul, overcome by jealousy and evil spirits that torment him, tried to take David's life. Repeatedly. David tries everything he can think of to convince his king that he is not a threat, that he loves and desires to serve Saul.

In chapter 24, David sneaks up to King Saul when he enters a cave that David and his men are hiding in, and cuts of a bit of Saul's robe. Even this struck David as shameful, and he says to his men who had encouraged him to kill Saul and be done with the issue forever, "The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord's anointed, or lift my hand against him, for he is the anointed of the Lord." David honors Saul's position as king and loves him. Later he shows the bit of Saul's robe to Saul, trying to convince him that he doesn't want to harm him. After all, if he did, he could have cut off more than a bit of robe. Saul ultimately remains unconvinced. A similar situation happens again in chapter 26, when David gets close enough to Saul to kill him, as his men are encouraging him to do, but he refrains. He only wants to prove his devotion to his king.

David sets firm boundaries on his interactions with King Saul, because of Saul's irrational behavior. He does not allow King Saul to hurt or kill him, and while he respects and honors the King's authority over him, he will not obey if it means his life or the lives of his men. His love and honor demand that he not retaliate, that he treat King Saul with respect and integrity. His love is boundless, and expresses itself in boundaries set to prevent King Saul from committing terrible sins against God. He trusts that the God that commands boundless love will care for those He boundlessly loves. God will be David's protection. And the first thing that God is protecting is the eternal David, David's heart and soul and relationship to God.

There is no doubt what is in David's heart in these verses. I am less sure of my own motives, and that is as it should be. Boundless love does not ask, who is my neighbor? Boundless love knows that God's net of love is wide and reaches everyone. Boundless loves says, who do I get to love today, and in what ways can I show love to them? Loophole loves asks, who do I have to love today, and how far does that "love" have to go?

Who is my neighbor? Welcome to a neighborhood without borders, a endless supply of people. Welcome to discipleship w/Jesus, 101. Welcome to the parable of the Good Samaritan...

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