July 10, 2016 Text: Luke 10:25-37
Dear Friends in Christ,
If you have ever tried to learn the game of tennis you know that learning to serve is one of the hardest parts of the game to master. It can be a difficult and trying task. Not only is this true in tennis it can also be this way in life.
Life in Christ involves service. It means serving others, which can be a difficult and trying task. It is part of our everyday living – encountering our neighbors and serving them. How are you doing? We have to admit there are times that we fail. Times when servant hood is not at the top of our list. Why? I can think of a few excuses. Let’s tackle them today . . .
“TOO MESSY AND TOO BUSY!”
A man is traveling the winding road through the rocky desert. He is accosted by thugs who attack, assault, rob, and beat him. They leave him as road kill. Later two men approach him:
A priest, fresh from leading worship at the temple, saw the bloodied fellow. If he were dead, to touch him would be taboo. The priest would experience ceremonial defilement and so lose his priestly prerogatives. This was too messy!
A Sunday School teacher asks her students: “What would you do if you were that priest?” One answers: “I think I’d throw up.” Indeed, it’s messy! So the priest doesn’t get involved.
Next comes a Levite – a religious worker who has been busy with his religious activities. He cleaned the temple and the synagogue. He maintained the holy furniture and the vessels. He directed the choirs and the musicians. He organized the sacred library. But when he saw the beaten man, he passed by. He was too busy!
Christian discipleship happens in our everyday life, where opportunities arise to serve. But for us, to get involved is oftentimes:
Too messy: We hesitate to get involved with people’s problems: a coworker divorcing, a neighbor whose kids are unruly, a teen who looks odd, an old person with a house run down, a sick friend.
Too busy: To help and serve others takes time. We’ve got life scheduled to the minute. So we can’t fit the needs of others into our schedules. We have got other obligations and deadlines.
Samaritans were the hated enemy of Jews. They were considered half-breeds, traitors, and heretics. So when Jesus introduces this character, quite likely the audience expected him to be a villain since this is how Samaritans were commonly portrayed – “Boo! Hiss!” Perhaps they were expecting the Samaritan to finish off this injured fellow.
Instead, the Samaritan “had compassion” (v. 33). He rescues the Jewish victim, serves him, and sacrifices for him so that he is cared for. Having completed the story, Jesus asks the clinching question: “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor?” The lawyer responded: “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus then directs, “You go, and do likewise.” (vs. 36-37)
To us Jesus also says, “You go, and do likewise.” The problem is we often don’t. The lives of others are too messy! Ours are too busy! We fail to serve and love our neighbors as ourselves.
But there is one in this account who does, the real-life narrator. Jesus came into this messy world and connected himself to messy people – prostitutes, publicans, lepers. More than that, He connected with sinners. He served them – healed, forgave, and released them from the mess of sin and the peril of death.
He serves us sinners. He heals and forgives when we think things are too messy or we are too busy. He releases us from our sins and its deadly consequences. This was His mission: to see that we were dying in sin, so He loved us, and took on himself the mess of our sin. He was beaten and bloodied so that we might be rescued, so that we might live.
Now in response we join Christ’s mission, and serve in His name. We serve in the messiness and busyness of life. We serve because He first served us.
It was a bitterly cold day. A boy stood shivering on a sidewalk. His clothes were thin and tattered; he was a child of the street. A woman, dressed for the weather, stopped and engaged the boy in conversation. The compassionate woman took him to a nearby clothing store and outfitted him from head to toe. He was filled with gratitude and couldn’t thank her enough. As they said goodbye the boy turned back to ask, “Are you God’s mother?” The gentle woman answered, “Oh, no. I’m just a child of God.” The smiling lad remarked, “I knew you were related.”
We know the Lord loves us. We are related because of what He has done. In that relation we help our neighbor, bind the injured, give time to the downtrodden. When we extend our hands it is in fact Christ who is extending Himself.
Christ has rescued us. He gave His all that we might live. Thus we serve others in the messiness and busyness of life. Amen.