What is written in the Law? [Jesus] 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. Luke 10:2628 NIV
A RELIGIOUS EXPERT once asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus gave this reply. The cleric then asked Jesus a reasonable question: Who is my neighbor? In response, Jesus unveils the parable of the good Samaritanwhich immediately challenges the ethnocultural, socioeconomic, and political barriers previously constructed by the religious establishment in first century Palestine. Samaritans had been cast as outsiders in Jewish culture, yet it is a disparate character that Jesus uses to highlight the power of love in human form.
If we are to love God, then we ought to lean in to what and who God loves. It seems to me that through Christ, God erases the line between the insiders and the outsiders. This requires amazing grace. Each day that I go to work, I engage a multiplicity of relationships. From students to donors to staff and faculty, to neighbor-hood citizens and city leadersI am constantly surprised at how often my love for Christ is largely what I have to offer as I enter into difficult situations. I am convinced that to practice loving God is to practice loving others.
In Luke 10, Jesus is preaching an upside-down worldview. He is simply unafraid to announce to the world that to love God is to challenge the constructed status quo. Accused of dining with sinners and befriending gamblers and robbers, Jesus doesnt blink. Gods love flourishes in the midst of brokenness. As we live out this day, perhaps our devotion to God can be practiced as we demonstrate his love to our neighbors? Perhaps this is a call to the Church?
Lord, turn our love of God into a love of our neighbors, so that they may know you through the actions and love of your followers. May we remember that you came to seek and to save those who are losthelp us to love who you love. Let us be like the good Samaritan in reaching across socially constructed barriers to clothe the naked, comfort the afflicted, support the weary. God, our world is in desperate need for your love to be lived out through our lives each and every day.
-Andrea Cook, PhD, President, Warner Pacific College