Read His Words Before Ours!
I have a confession to make.
For many of my growing up years, though I never realized it until recently,
I battled with prejudice.
I wasn’t racist; I didn’t consider myself better based on skin tone.
But there was a part of me that did think that I was better than another.
Nationality aside, if someone else believed differently than I did, I viewed them as inferior.
I took great pride in my country, was very patriotic, and loved America. I still do.
But, I subconsciously thought America was far superior than all other nations.
I felt it was acceptable to look down my nose to those who lived elsewhere.
Even as I write, I am so ashamed of myself for ever thinking that.
Is America a wonderful country? Yes.
Am I thankful for the unique freedoms being an American affords me? Absolutely!
But I am no better than any citizen of another nation; we are all made in the image of God and on equal footing before Him. (Genesis 1:27)
This biblical, wide-spread equality is something the Jews of both Old and New Testament times didn’t understand. They endured an age-long struggle with the Samaritan people, which finally culminated with the Jews being un-willing to speak to anyone of Samaritan descent.
We see trouble beginning to brew in 2 Kings 17:24-28 when people of all different nations and backgrounds were placed in the land of Samaria which had first belonged to the Jews. Before long, these foreigners began to intermarry with the Jewish people and, because they served false gods, raised children who believed in a faith-mixture culture blending Jewish belief and traditions with rampant false religious teachings. Trouble between two cultures escalated as the Samaritans sought to halt the Jews’ project of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. (Nehemiah 6:1-14).
The Jews’ continued hatred towards the Samaritans becomes quite evident in the New Testament when we discover that Jews didn’t even speak to Samaritans (John 4:9).
Imagine the surprise (and outrage!) of the Jewish people when Jesus not only spoke to Samaritans, treating them as equal to the Jews, but even went so far as to make a Samaritan the “good guy hero” of one of His stories!
This would have seemed completely outlandish and inappropriate.
But Jesus did it anyway, and I’m glad He did!
He taught us a valuable lesson which is oh-so-relevant to today.
In Luke 10:25-37 we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, a story Jesus told about a man who was robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Both a priest and a Levite (people who should’ve known better, as people of God!) walked by on the opposite side of the road.
Their agendas were too important.
Their appearance too high of a priority.
And heaven-forbid they break a sacred law by touching blood in order to love a stranger!
A poor, suffering man in the street wasn’t worth sacrificing any of these.
Then came a Samaritan, believed by the Jews to be good for nothing and full of evil (John 8:48).
But, in Jesus’ carefully crafted story, it was a Samaritan who saw the poor man, had compassion on him, treated his injuries, and then set him up in an inn.
The Samaritan displayed intentional compassion, going far out of his way to provide for his needs.
In the end, it was a Samaritan whom the Lord held up as an example for us, saying, “Go, and do likewise”. (Luke 10:37)
I don’t know about you,
but that is convicting to me!
How often do I first jump to see the differences between myself and another rather than our common similarity?
Whether it’s a difference of nationality, beliefs, clothing, appearance, or culture, often our first impulse is to hold tight to prideful arrogance, rather than see others as fellow image bearers of God, worthy of my care and compassion.
Just as the priest and Levite did in Jesus’ story.
Countless justifications stop me from radically loving another.
What a timely question for us to ask ourselves with all the turmoil between countries, between people of different backgrounds, among immigrants, and gender wars!
Are we living lives of love, treating others as Jesus would have us to?
As the Good Samaritan did?
Or are we acting as the priest and Levite: too good, too important, and too busy to be bothered?
Our ultimate example of this kind of radical love is Christ.
Jesus boldly shared the story of the Good Samaritan with a crowd of Jews, and then lived His life to match it!
At the end of His life, nailed to a cross for crimes He didn’t commit, the story of the Samaritan was exemplified to the nth degree.
We were the Samaritans; you and I were the outcasts.
We chased after false gods, living contrary to God’s holy standard.
Yet, Jesus, He bled and died for us, showing us ultimate compassion, love, and care.
What about you?
How will you become like the Good Samaritan, like Jesus, today right where you are?
How are you being called to go beyond the borders we tend to erect for ourselves?
Who is different than you, and how can you love them better today?
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!