Friday, June 5, 2009

Love, the equal opportunity emotion

Luke 10:25-37
25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

27He answered: " '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, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

This is another passage where the same two Old Testament laws were brought up. “Love the Lord your God…” is in Deuteronomy 6:5, and “Love your neighbor…” is in Leviticus 19:18

Keep in mind that Christ was talking to Jews, and to them the Samaritans were bitter enemies. The first two people were of the same faith, maybe even the same congregation, and yet they went out of their way to avoid helping this person who was beaten and left for dead. The person who ended up helping was a sworn enemy, and yet he went beyond just bandaging the man up, he also took care of his shelter needs.

The message here is very clear. You must love everyone, even those you once considered an enemy. The thing to remember is that God created us all equal, different, but equal. That means that no one is any better or worse than anyone else. If we were to put this in terms of a business, the president is no better than the janitor. As long as they both do their part the company can flourish.

In this world, there are thousands of religions, and cultures. In the various religions, there are different philosophies, but just because someone doesn’t believe the same way as you do, does that mean that you should love them any less? Of course not; right or wrong, we can disagree with a person’s beliefs, but it is not our job to judge them. Only God has that right. Our job is to extend love to that person, and live life by our beliefs. If we are true to our beliefs, we can lead more people to Christ by example than by force.

I once went to a church that had a sermon that day on loving unconditionally. The one thing I noticed is the dirty looks I got for wearing Jeans instead of slacks, and even though there were different races in the church they still segregated themselves from each other. Unconditional love is a colorblind emotion. It doesn’t segregate, or judge another person’s differences.

The most basic way to put this is, if God created everyone equally, and loves us for who we are, then we should follow his example and love everyone equally.

Challenge: see beyond the exterior appearance of a person to find the good, and love them, as you would have them love you.


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