Pandemic. Politics. Murder. Riots. You name it and it seems to be currently be happening. Though people are divided, we as Christians should be taking comfort knowing we have the privilege of spreading God’s hope to a weary world by loving others through our differences. The one thing that will keep us united is love. God is love (1 John 4:8).
Though we no longer live in Savannah, we still regularly watch virtual sermons from our our old church and the church we call home — Community Bible Church. This past Sunday, the pastor spoke on engaging with others, as he reminded us of how we are called to love as God loves (John 15:12). But what does that mean, exactly?
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
We were given the example of the parable of the good Samaritan.
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”Luke 10:25-37
Loving Others Through Our Differences Depletes Our Comfort Zone
As Christians, it’s our job to search for opportunities in which to love. How often do you see your neighbor pull up into the driveway and you sneak away avoiding having to say hi? Or what about a homeless man asking for change; do you give it?
In this day and age, there seems to be two sides to everything. Whether you vote blue or red, whether you are black or white, which sports team you cheer for; and that is not what God intended. If we think of the parable above, we notice something extremely significant. Both a Priest and a Levite passed by the bruised and battered man on the other side of the road, and yet a Samaritan stopped to help him.
What is interesting about this is Jews and Samaritans despised each other. They were not friendly to each other and didn’t see eye-to-eye, and yet, Jesus used this Samaritan as an example in this story. Why do you think that is? Do you think it could be to prove a point to us? To show us that no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how many differences or disagreeances, you should never leave your neighbor stranded or helpless? Do you think maybe God is using this example because loving others through our differences is one of the most Godly things we can do? Think of Jesus. The sinless man who ate with sinners. Now that is loving others through our differences!
Expense vs. Excuse
Something else I love so much about this story is that not only did the Samaritan pick the man up, but he also set him on his animal, took him to an inn, and then paid his way; then proceeded to tell the innkeeper he would pay any additional charges when he gets back.
“We are a world that worships at the altar of self, particularly comfort and convenience. We have to be willing to put the comfort and convenience of others ahead of our own.”Pastor Clint, Community Bible Church – Savannah
He said it so well and it has really stuck with me. Since hearing this sermon on Sunday I have asked myself, “How can I inconvenience myself to convenience someone else?” It sounds odd because who wants to inconvenience themselves, but as followers of Jesus, that’s what we should be doing. We should be considering others’ feelings and comforts before our own.
Does that mean you offer to babysit for a neighbor who you know could use a date night? Would offering to homeschool someone’s child so he or she can continue working be helpful to someone? I’m going big with this one — Does it mean stopping in the summer heat on the side of the road to help someone with a flat tire, who has a bumper sticker of the election candidate that you disagree with?
It’s not about limiting the people you’re supposed to love but instead being limitless with our love! Ask yourself: How can we lead a life as a follower of Jesus? How can we show Jesus’ love through our own actions?
Loving Through Our Differences is Impossible Without Jesus
I think Jesus used this example to show us that no matter what we disagree on, with Him in our hearts, loving others through our differences is possible. To love your neighbor — and I mean truly love — which you disagree with on a daily basis, you must first love Jesus. You must first have the love of Jesus in your heart and only then will that love pour out onto others.
Where we go wrong all too often is to think we are the heroes of the story, when in fact the hero is Jesus. Discipleship doesn’t start with what we should do, but instead what Jesus has done.
Where we go wrong is we think it’s up to us to be the good Samaritan but that’s not the point of the story. The point is that Jesus is the good Samaritan. We are the beat up guy in the ditch. Jesus sees us. Jesus is moved with compassion. He comes to us and meets us in the ditch.
“We are taken out of our ditch of sin and shame and put into a position of righteousness. He takes a position of inconvenience.”2 Corinthians 5:21
He has paid the debt that we owe because of our sin and he promises us that one day he will return. Without God it is impossible to truly love our neighbor. On our own strength, we can live like this every now and then but to truly and consistently love others through our differences, we must have the love of Jesus in our hearts.
Do you have the love of Jesus in your heart?
*For more ways to help, especially during this time of need, check out this post.