Ansell: Love God and people
They asked Jesus in Mark 12:28-31, “What’s the most important law of all time?” He told them, “Love God with everything you’ve got. Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Then, Jesus threw in a bonus of “The second most important law of all time is love your neighbor as yourself.”
Can we talk? Loving God is one thing, but loving people is where some will get off the train. People are messed up, relationships are messy, most fail and to be honest they are not always a pep rally if you know what I mean. What’s funny is as I taught this precept a few Sunday’s ago I realized most of the congregation live in the country, why? Because they don’t want neighbors right? Makes you think, where is the love in our culture, it’s not necessarily in the church is it?
In Luke 10 Jesus has kind of the same conversation He had in Mark 12 but in Luke He connects a story to these precepts. He tells a story that those of us that grew up in the church remember from a flannel graph presentation (can we please bring back this visual aid?) and we call it the story of the Good Samaritan.
They didn’t have a sheriff’s department patrolling the back roads back in the Bible days so the likelihood of you getting mugged was pretty high. So in the story Jesus tells about a man getting beat up, robbed and left naked on the side of the road.
A preacher comes by and sees the man in need but he looks the other way (selective vision for sure). Then a Sunday school teacher or a deacon comes by and they ignore him as well. It’s easy to justify our behavior isn’t it? It’s easy to explain why we can’t (don’t) help others is what I’m saying. Too busy, too this, too that. It’s easy to act like a Christian but it’s hard to react like a Christian, does that make sense? My point is the people who should be an expression of God’s great love choose to NOT love, to NOT help, to NOT be obedient to the two most important commands of Scripture - what’s up with that?! In my business we call this sin and the last time I checked it was still wrong.
I love what Luke 10:33 says, “But a Samaritan, … came to where he was and when he saw him, he had compassion.” Boom! The one guy who should have never stopped because he was from the wrong side of the tracks, pulled over, got off his animal, unpacked the First Aid kit, applied a couple of Band-Aids, put the naked man on his animal while he walked. He checked the man into the local motel, paid the clerk and told the clerk if the guy ordered room service, made any non-local phone calls or bought a movie or needed anything he would cover the expense on his way back through town (we call this going the extra mile). What did we just describe? We described love, loving your neighbor. Who is your neighbor? Everyone according to Jesus. Democrats, protestors, black lives are our neighbors, gay people all of these qualify. But, so do people wearing masks and people not wearing masks, Republicans, pro-life people, pro-choice people, Christians and non-christians, even people that don’t stop and help are our neighbors. What do we do with these people? We love them. Why, well, not because it’s easy but rather because Jesus loves them. Vertical love (loving God) will eventually become horizontal love (love for others). In Luke 10:37 Jesus said, “Go and love your neighbor.” How do you know if you love? You know by your actions. Go get’em! He told me to tell you that.