The lawyer in Luke 10 wants to justify himself. His question, “Who is my neighbor?” seeks to create a distinction. He’s suggesting that some people are neighbors and some are not. He implies that God’s people are only called to love God’s people. And we get to decide who those people are! This expert in the Scriptures is saying that, whether due to geography, heritage, ancestry, skin-color, or socio-economic factors, some people are non-neighbors.
That’s what Jesus is reacting to when he tells his story.
A priest walks by and sees the victim by the side of the road and does nothing. A Levite sees this half-dead man and does nothing. Two religious leaders who’ve known and taught the Great Command — Love God and Love Neighbor — for as long as they can remember. They saw and they passed by on the other side.
And then Jesus gives us the emotional twist that both astonishes and convicts.
A Samaritan walks by and sees. Then he went to him. The two verbs here are so important. He saw and he went. And then he verbed this man completely back to health. He gave this victim, this helpless soul, this desperate and dying man created in the magnificent image of God, everything he needed. Look at all the verbs.
He went to him. He bandaged him. He poured on oil and wine. He put the man on his own donkey. He took him to an inn. He took care of him. He took out his money. He gave his money to the innkeeper. He promised to return and reimburse.
And Jesus says, “Now, define ‘neighbor’ for me. Who’s the ‘neighbor’?”
Then our Savior looks this expert right in the eyes and gives him two verbs: Go and Do.
Jesus’ words, Go and Do, totally end the conversation. No more questions. No more answers. No more religious loopholes and religious line-drawing and religious double-talk. No more interpretations of Scripture. No more using God or the Word of God as a way to avoid or dismiss the real hurting men and women we see in our lives.
When we understand the story, we understand that something big is going on and I’m told I can get in on it. Actually I’m told, “Go! Get in on it!”
It’s not “Who is my neighbor” as if some people are and some people aren’t. That’s the wrong question. The question is, “Will I be a neighbor?” Everybody sees all the pain around us. Everybody sees all the hurting people. Everybody sees all the lost. God’s people, though, see and do. We see and render aid. We see and provide help. We see and then we sacrifice and serve in joining our God to make things right.
Go and Do. In Northeast Tarrant County and Nairobi. In our subdivisions and in downtown Fort Worth.
Another Four Horsemen Campout/Advance in the books. Twenty-four hours at Tyler State Park. 55-degrees warmer than last year. Four hours of sleep. Seven bags of chips. No major injuries. This one, though, to be forever remembered for three things.
1) The Food. All of it provided and cooked by Kevin. Four-inch-thick ribeyes and football-sized baked potatoes. And salad! Salad? Yeah, I know. Followed up by perfectly-prepared eggs, toast, sausage, and bacon Saturday morning and ham and turkey sandwiches Saturday afternoon. No offense to Jason and his water-in-a-jug pancakes from years past. But the food this year was, by far, the best ever.
2) The Raccoon. He stole Kevin’s bag of marshmellows from right underneath his chair while we were all sitting by the fire. He came within a couple of feet, twice, of nabbing my bag of jalapeno potato chips right next to my chair. While we were all sitting there. Jason had a clean shot at him with a football from about four feet, but short-hopped it bad. Choked under pressure. Somewhere, in the deep recesses of Tyler State Park, a raccoon is throwing up 48-jumbo marshmellows. I hope.
3) The Near-Death Experiences. Falling trees. Flying ax handles. Slides down dangerous cliffs (OK, just the hill from the parking lot to the lake). Jumping rocks. It was an adventure.
The best part, though, is always the mutual encouragement, the prayers, the study, and the counsel that’s shared. Every year. We know each other so well that the prayers are always dead-on. I mean, right-between-the-eyes, yes, thanks I needed that, kind of prayers. We pray for each other’s ministries, each other’s churches, each other’s families, and each other’s personal walk with Christ. We ask God to give us all the strength and power to do his will, the courage and boldness to do it his way, and the character and integrity to do it with pure hearts and clean motives, above reproach.
I’m blessed to have three such great friends, such great men of God who love me and take care of me. They know exactly when I legitimately need genuine encouragement and they know exactly when I just need to suck it up and get over it. God continually touches me and speaks to me and blesses me through these great men. They challenge me and push me. They model for me what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus. I can’t imagine trying to do it without them.
And Terrell Owens is in Buffalo, where in December it’ll be 19-degrees with a 35 mph north wind. The Bills will be 5-9 at that point, they’ll be playing the Ravens, and he’ll be split out wide where he can get a good view of another running play. The 13th play out of their past 15 that have stayed on the ground. Sweet.
As Dan Miller would say, “Life is good.”