Mick’s Memo – Love, The Highest Standard
Thanks for your prayers and many encouraging acts of love—homemade soup, concerned care from my Doc, being “grounded” by the elders and Howard Carr subbing for me. The Lord willing and voice cooperating I expect to finish our Hebrews series this weekend.
Happy Valentine’s Day! This (I’m writing Thursday) marks the 49th anniversary of Betsy and my first date. We were at rehearsal for Camelot in the morning on Saturday and the director told me I had to take “Button” to the small Manlius Theater to see the movie Camelot. I know, too mushy for public consumption. The rest is history!
Love is the topic on everybody’s mind at this holiday. But love isn’t best defined by “chemistry” or “magic”. When Jesus was questioned about what it means to love He erased all previous conventions and set a standard that has challenged His followers to radically change the definition.
He did this by telling a parable; one most of us know well, the parable of the Good Samaritan. A Scribe or legal expert had come to question Jesus about how to inherit eternal life. Jesus deftly answered with a question asking the man what he thought the law said about it. The man accurately summarized the OT law with the Great Commandment…
He 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.” Luke 10:27-28 (NIV)
I don’t know why but I’m guessing Jesus let some silence hang in the air. How can any honest person say they love God that wholeheartedly or love their neighbor as much as they love themselves? Then Luke records the same thing about the Scribe that is true of us: “but he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”
The parable answers that question. Jesus puts an Israelite in life-threatening distress, robbed and beaten, left for dead on a public highway. Two religious leaders, a Levite and a Priest, whom their society would consider righteous, do nothing but avoid and abandon the man.
At this point I don’t think the Scribe would be shocked. After all, the man would be all bloody and they had their duties to attend to; they would become ceremonially contaminated and greatly inconvenienced.
But the shock comes next. A Samaritan, noted for their collective apostasy from the Jewish faith, comes along with compassion, goes miles out of his way and extravagantly cares for the man. Jesus ends the parable with the question…“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Love always costs. We are called to that kind of Good Samaritan love. Our neighbor is anyone God puts on our path who can use the mercy of our loving actions. Some we know intimately—family members or close friends. Some we know casually—geographic neighbors, co-workers, classmates, or community contacts. Others may be unknown to us until we come upon them on the highways of life. What opportunities has God put on our journey for us to show that we are loving our neighbor? We will always have pressing alternative priorities that will urge us to cross the road away from the need and walk on. We will always find rational justification for ignoring need.
Valentine’s Day—love, love, love! I wonder how Jesus would assess our understanding of His definition of that term. I know His definition is a constant challenge to me.
I want to encourage anyone who is thinking about baptism to attend the class this Sunday during the 2nd service in the upper room of the Community Center. Baptism is a key part of following Jesus, publicly acknowledging our identification as His follower. It is also a step toward identifying as a member of CrossRoads. We will also observe the Lord’s supper during services this Sunday.
Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!