Anybody here grow up in Sunday School? For many, we remember from those early years the great stories of the Bible. It is filled with amazing accounts of real people in everyday lives who did extraordinary things. Queen Esther and her rise from obscurity to royalty. Daniel alone all night in a pit with hungry lions, their mouths held shut by an angel. Paul and Silas singing praises in the dungeon until the earth shook beneath them and their chains fell off while the prison doors swung wide. David and Goliath. So many great, true stories. Our teachers used those stories to teach truths to us in a powerful way.
Jesus, the greatest teacher, knew the power of a good story, too. We call them parables, but really they were stories.
Some he told to veil the truth from listeners who didn't really want to hear truth anyway. Some he told to illustrate truth to those who really had an ear to hear.
There was a man Jesus encountered who seemed to sincerely want the truth about gaining 'eternal life' and stood up in the midst of the crowd and asked boldly what he must do to inherit it. Knowing the man was an expert in the Old Testament Law, Jesus answered his question with a question. Surprisingly, the man knew the answer:
Love God with all your heart
and love your neighbor as yourself.
Basically Jesus tells him, "Apparently you already know the truth, now just go and do it!"
It seems he had asked Jesus a question he already knew the answer to.
Have you ever done that? I have. Usually it's because even though I know what I need to do, I don't really want to do it.
I look for reasons to justify my position. It was no different with this man. The story tells us that the man wanted to 'justify himself', hoping the term 'neighbor' did not include those he felt didn't deserve his love.
Let's face it; sometimes it's hard to love other people.
Maybe not in a general sense, but to really love certain people in our lives- it’s tough. Some people hurt us and betray us. Some people are so different from us, or hold such opposite beliefs as us it's hard to see past their beliefs or their actions towards us to what's underneath...
A person Christ died for. Or as the Bible puts it, a 'neighbor'.
Jesus uses the story of the Good Samaritan to illustrate this- his command to truly love others includes even those we've deemed undeserving of it. We are to love them the same as we love ourselves.
Maybe if we spent as much time justifying others actions as we do justifying our own, we would find it a lot easier to love them; giving others the same grace we give ourselves for our weaknesses and mistakes. Just a thought…
Let’s not just see the idea of loving others well as a challenge or suggestion from God, but ask for eyes to see it for the command that it actually is. To be obedient to this one command in our lives would transform not only us, but also those around us.
And just like those ancient Bible stories we know and love -
Who's to say that a new book of stories
isn't being written in Heaven right now?
A record being kept that tells the true-to-life stories of lovers that love with the God kind of love.
That is a story I want to be a part of.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth…” 1 John 3;18-19