Key Thought: We know the second part of the command by heart- love your neighbor as yourself. But when we hear this, some of us quickly dismiss this as non-applicable to us. Or sometimes, we wish to put a limiting qualifier on who we should direct our care and compassion toward. We will sometimes internalize this thought- I don’t really need to love THAT person, do I? Jesus was confronted with that very question. For he was in a conversation with someone who was a believer, knew the Bible, and had the correct answers. But he was missing one key element- the width of this command. In this moment, Jesus does what he had done so well so many times before- he told a story. And in this story, he illustrates how far we are to take this neighboring command.
To be the greatest church, we must follow the greatest command from the greatest person.
First Part: Love God
Second Part: Love your neighbor
- Jesus not only gets to issue the command, but he also defines the terms.
The Problem: We bypass this command too quickly because:
- We misunderstand the term love.
- We listen more to the cultural voices than we do Jesus.
Whatever is happening inside our culture does nothing to negate this command.
Passage: Luke 10:25-37
Historical Markers of the Samaritan Culture:
- The King of Assyria invades the region (2 Kings 15:5)
- The Assyrian people settle in the region (2 Kings 17:24)
- The people from this region were antagonistic toward God’s work (Ezra 4:1-24; Nehemiah 4:2)
- They also rewrote the 10 Commandments to include that God must be worshipped at Mt. Gerizim
- Are the Samaritans off base theologically?
- Was there cultural and political tension between these two groups?
- Did their religious customs depart from Jewish customs?
- Did Jesus know all of this?
This immense distance and tension between these groups does not negate God’s command for these groups.
- Being a believer, knowing the Bible, and having correct answers does not insulate you from this command.
- Jesus illustrates what love (mercy) actually looks like (merciful care, kindness).
- Your worse social/cultural/political enemy is the perfect place to put this into action.
Jesus has already shared that we are to express enemy love.
Jesus has already set the application: Go and do likewise. (These are not just teachings. These are marching orders)
- Identify your cultural/social/political enemy
- Write one step of mercy you can show them.
TALK IT OUT:
- If we are honest with ourselves, most of us can think of a time or times when we have asked, “Who is my neighbor.” (vs. 29) in an attempt to put qualifiers up which would limit who we have to love. Reflect on a time when you have done this.
- Pastor Rusty suggests part of our problem when it comes to “loving our neighbor” is that we don’t understand the term love. What do you think Jesus meant when he said we are to “love our neighbor?”
- Pastor Rusty says we tend to listen, “more to cultural voices than we do Jesus.” What cultural voices you hear can sometimes drown out Jesus’ voice in our ears?
- According to Pastor Rusty, “whatever is happening in our culture does nothing to negate God’s command to love our neighbor.” Why do most of us find this so hard?
- The Samaritan people were historically antagonistic toward God, God’s work and his people. They even rewrote the 10 Commandments to include a commandment which said God had to be worshiped at Mt. Gerizim. Why do you think Jesus used this ancient conflict to teach his people the truth about loving their neighbors?
- The Samaritans were theologically off base and there was great cultural and political tension between them and the Jews but Jesus still challenged his followers to love them. Pastor Rusty points out how the distance and tension between the Jews and Samaritans did nothing to negate God’s command to love those who aren’t like us. Why do we find it difficult to love those with whom we have little in common?
- Being a believer, knowing the Bible, and having correct answers does not insulate us from this command. In fact, our cultural and political enemies offer us the perfect place to put this command into action. Whom do you find it most challenging to love?
LIVE IT OUT
- Based upon those you find it most difficult to love in question 7, write out a list of those you would identify as a cultural, social or political enemies.
- Review the list you just wrote down and pray for each person.
- Jesus himself set out the application for today’s message himself when he told the expert in the law to “go and do likewise.” Go through your list but this time ask God to show you how he wants you to love each person on your list the same way Jesus loves them.
- Write down a practical way you will show God’s love to each person on your list.