The Good American (Samaritan)

A couple was taking a trip to a nearby city to do some shopping when on their way out of town they came across an older gentleman along the side of the road with a duffle bag and his thumb in the air. The couple drove on past, but the wife asked her husband if he wanted to pick the gentleman up. A moment of decision was at hand, should they turn around and pick up this stranger and take a risk or should they just continue on driving as though there had never been anyone there. They turned around, still with some fear and anxiety about the person that they were about to pick up, but they decided to trust in God for their protection. They turned around again, this time in sight of the man and headed back towards him to pick him up. This time the decision was the man’s. Would he trust total strangers enough to get into the vehicle and accept a ride knowing that he would be at their mercy? He knew that he needed a ride as the hill that he had only made it a quarter of the way up had already been about all that his old bones could bear. He had already spent two nights sleeping under a bridge in the cold to stay out of the rain and desperately needed to make it to his friend’s house who had agreed to take him in and get him off of the street. Could he really chance passing up a ride, how much longer could he continue? He decided to trust in God for his protection and to get into the vehicle.

Photo taken by Pedro Robeiro Simoes.  Some rights reserved.
Photo taken by Pedro Robeiro Simoes. Some rights reserved by owner.

It was time to meet. The gentleman, who was 64 years old, opened the door with a smile and graciously thanked them for the ride as he placed his bag into the vehicle. The couple knew immediately that they had made the right choice. They could sense that the Lord was with them and that the Lord was with the man. As they drove down the road they were blessed by each other in learning about each other’s lives and their walk with the Lord. The homeless gentleman would learn that they were pregnant and would be the first person to know the name of their child. The couple would learn about the difficulties in life that the gentleman had faced and the decisions that he made which landed him in jail where he would come to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and that would ultimately leave him homeless for the last eight years of his life. They continued on and would eventually share a meal together and would end up well past their original destination to take this gentleman as far as he would accept a ride from them, but the impact would be lasting. They would reflect upon what Jesus had done for them to guide them down this path, all the while keeping them safe on their journey. All because they decided to trust and to obey.

This story makes me think about the Good Samaritan and about how many people had passed by the man as he lay their half dead and naked on the road, just like the countless number of people that had passed by this homeless man. Here is the parable of the Good Samaritan as told by Jesus.

Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

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.'”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where this man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Good Samaritan by Aimé Morot (1880)
The Good Samaritan by Aimé Morot (1880)
“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “and who is my neighbor?” (10:28). It is difficult to love people, it is difficult to accept that we are to love all people not just the ones that are closest to us or that we care about the most or even just the ones that are easiest to love. I cannot even begin to count how many times I have been like the expert of the law who asked Jesus who was considered to be his neighbor. I know that I fail at this so often, but I want to do better. Just today I failed miserably at this and had to repent and ask God to show me how to love someone whom I have no understanding of how to love. I had to ask God to soften my heart for this person and to show me who they really are, to show me their hurts, their desires, to show me what He sees not just what I see. You see I have a bad habit of judging people and trying to justify myself, just as the teacher of the law was trying to do, but Jesus is clear in His teaching. We are to love, even when it is difficult, even when it costs, even when the other person could never repay us because our reward will be waiting for us in heaven. So where is your love?

Father you are so gracious and mighty. Your ways are above my ways oh Lord. Let your Kingdom come down to this earth just as it is in Heaven. Forgive me for all of the times that I have failed you. Forgive me for my hard heart and the hurt that I have caused others. Forgive me for being judgmental and not loving those whom you have told me to love. Father protect me from the schemes of the enemy who is out to destroy me and to make me ineffective with those around me. Protect those around me and allow them to feel safe in my presence so that I can show them who you really are and what you are able to do. Lord you have restored my life, you are still restoring my life and I want to pass that on to others. I want to show them what it looks like to be made whole by the maker of the Heavens and the Earth, by the creator of man and woman, who desires to see all of us made whole. All we have to do is accept you God, to trust you, and to obey you. Keep me from growing weary in doing your work Lord. Help me to be an effective member of your body. I thank you for your love and kindness and mercy. I thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, and it is in his name I pray. Amen.

Where_is_the_love

Response to Darkness, Fear, and Hatred…Love and Trust!

Angel LightWe all have different things that get us stirred up in life. Usually the things that hit the closest to home are the ones that get the most of our attention and often times create heated disputes. Recently the Presbyterian church has been under attack from the public after their decision to endorse gay marriage. I am not sure if endorse is necessarily the right word, but I think it is fitting. I do not like to get into subjects like this in a forum where people are allowed to post openly because it almost always turns into hatred right away and I do not want that to happen, so I am praying that it does not.

I feel as though it needs to be said that none of us knows the extent of God’s mercy and grace. We know what we have been told and what we have experienced, but we do not know what He will forgive. Personally I do not support the decision that the Presbyterian Church has made, but I do support all of the people involved from the leaders and members of the church, to the heterosexual people, to the homosexual people; the only people that I do not support are the people who are acting out of hate. I am not a supporter of gay marriage; I see it as a sin, but I also see the sin that every other person on earth has and I struggle to find a difference between my sin and another person’s. We all have our struggles in life; some of us know that we are sinners and are seeking help from God, others know that they are sinners and are simply ok with that, others do not see their actions as sinful, and still others do not recognize their sin or God. To point to one area of sin and say that a person is going to hell is only saying that we are all going to hell and I do not believe that. So my response is to love people, no matter who they are, no matter what they look like, no matter what their social status, and no matter what their sexual orientation.

As Christians we are called to love not judge. God is the judge, the Holy Spirit is the change agent, and Jesus is the means to forgiveness, to put it in fairly simplistic terms.

Leviticus 19:17-18
Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
verses 33-34
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

God is loveWe must be careful not to accept the sin, lest we be found guilty of sin, but we must learn to love and intercede for one another. It is through love that people will know that we are truly God’s disciples (Jn. 13:35). When the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees presented Jesus with the woman who had been caught in adultery they said that the Law of Moses says that she must be stoned. Jesus knelt down and wrote in the dust and when He arose He said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” After writing in the dust again He arose to find himself alone with the woman of which he asked where are all of your accusers. He said “didn’t even one of them condemn you?” When she replied that none of them condemned her Jesus said “neither do I. Go and sin no more”(Jn. 8:1-11).

I do not condone or support gay-marriage, but I do support and love the people. My heart is to see the lost found no matter what they are going through. I have no way of knowing who is a child of God and who is not, I leave that up to God who knows all and sees all. I do my best to act in love in all circumstances, I do not always succeed, but I do my best. It is good not to accept the sin, but we must be careful to not fall into sin ourselves. We are to be light to the world. 1 John 1:5 says that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” We must do everything that we can to be a light, lest we find our-self outside of God.

Divine sky

Father I pray for your protection over all who read this message that you would protect all who read it from the attacks of Satan who is out to cause destruction in the world and in our lives. May this message cause your Living Water to flow throughout. Lord, let your people be a light to those around them because in you there is no darkness. Help us to identify and understand the attacks of the enemy that we have occurring within us at this moment and we rebuke them right now in Jesus’ name. Lord, may we all be brought closer together by this. You have told us to love and love we shall. You have told us not to accept sin, but to pray for the lost. You have told us that there is no darkness in you, so help us to always be a light. Holy Spirit guide our thoughts, our words, and our actions so that we do not bring judgement upon ourselves. Show us how to love and to lift people up. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen and Amen.