August 10, 2016

Lying on the side of the road...


My sister calls them 'churchy folks.' I call them hypocrites and legalists, and wish they would either get real or get out. Probably not the most Christ-like approach, but I'm still in process and I absolutely hate it when people play church and call it Christianity.



I’ve been thinking about neighbors lately.

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.”  And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “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.”

Luke10:25-37


 Who is my neighbor?

When the man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus turned the question around, essentially saying, the real question here is, what kind of neighbor are you going to be?

The question posed to all of us is, am I willing to kneel beside the hurting, broken, bleeding soul of another and show them mercy?

Fallen

This past year I identified with the man that fell among robbers, stripped, beaten and left half dead. At the time I hated it. I hated not being able to take care of myself, being needy and being 'that' friend. But having come through, I am grateful for my experience. It definitely humbled me, but it also taught me many lessons, is still teaching me actually.




The cost of wisdom is innocence

I held the hand of someone I trusted and I followed them to the edge of a cliff, on a path I had never walked and never dreamed I would. The path ended at the edge of something much too deep and the person I put my trust in let go of my hand. They stood and watched, as I fell over the edge, and then, in the name of God, walked away from me. They left me at the bottom of a ravine, broken and bleeding, and never once looked back.

I think you could say I was naive before my fall. I believed the best in people, all people, all the time. I made excuses for why some people made bad decisions.

I am sadly wiser now.

I still believe the best in people, but I don’t make excuses for them anymore.

The priests and the Levites are still around today.

The wagons were circled when I fell. Some people involved proved to be neighbors and some, Levites and priests. The example of my neighbors is the epitome of what we as Christians, as followers of Jesus, should all be doing. 

Being the recipient of the 'love' of priests and Levites helped me understand why people turn away from Christianity.

As I laid by the side of the road, I was given the opportunity to see through the pretense that many live behind, the banner they hold up and swear allegiance to. They call it Christianity, but is it? 

In the name of 'love' 'God' and 'Christianity in our community,' you talked about me, but not to me. You avoided me, not sure if I was safe to be around. You ignored my pain and pretended it didn't exist. You walked away from me and called it repentance, I think that is what hurt the most. 

My neighbors loved me through it

Coming up from that ravine every step felt like one step away from the edge, the point of no return. There were days I didn't know if I would make it. Faith in the dark was all I had. I was completely disoriented. I don't know how to express how I feel for the people that showed me mercy. These souls hemmed me in and let me set the pace as they loved me up from that dark place. Never letting me go, they loved me through the pain, the disillusionment, the fear and the sin. They loved my fragile broken heart back to health.

My neighbors allowed me to feel the pain in my heart without judging me. I didn't have to be careful in their presence, they gave me freedom to be real. They cried with me. In their acceptance, Jesus’s love was like oil and wine poured on my wounds. Their care bandaged my bleeding heart and carried me to a safe place to heal. 


They showed me mercy.

I believe this is what Jesus meant when he told us, "Now you, go and do likewise." This is Christianity.

Conclusion

We can’t allow the priests and the Levites around us to define Christianity.

Jesus never crosses to the other side of the road, and if we are following him, well, that’s obvious. 

There is no reason good enough to ignore the cries of the wounded. It is never about the worthiness of the recipient. Every human life is worthy of compassion.

We must never forget that we are saved by God's mercy and grace alone, not by anything we have ever done.

To the priests and Levites I ask, why is your religion threatened by my honesty? Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. Do you not see that your actions towards someone with a broken heart are exactly opposite of the God you claim to be following?

Love,
Renee


There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.
John 3:18