The following are the notes from this week’s CROSSROADS lesson. Words in bold identify key phrases from notes pages handed out each week. If you would like copies of our slides, please feel free to reach and request them. As these are from the notes pages for each week, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.
Let’s talk about what happened in Charlottesville last weekend. For those of you who are unaware, last weekend there was a large demonstration in Charlottesville of Klansmen and other white supremacists groups. During this demonstration, fights broke out, hurtful things were said, and one clash even left a girl dead. It was not a pretty sight.
How does hearing about this make you feel? Does it really impact you at all (directly or indirectly)? Have people been talking about it?
There is one thing in which almost everyone is in agreement: racism is an awful and ugly thing. God didn’t simply come to this earth to save certain people from a specific background, class, or ethnicity. When we devalue another person, we are actually devaluing someone who is made in God’s image. Think about it this way: if you had a twin and someone called that twin ugly, wouldn’t you feel a bit insulted as well? That’s what we’re doing to God when we look at someone, for whatever reason, and devalue who they are based on how they were created.
With that said, a lot of people are going to spend time this week talking about racism and the racists. I want to take a bit of a different direction. While everyone’s on-board with the idea that racism is bad and we should condemn it, we’re not always on the same page with how to treat the racist… the person guilty of saying and doing these hateful things. The way I put it to a group of youth ministers was, “if one of these Klansmen entered your church today wanting to know about Jesus Christ, would you welcome them as a lost soul in search of Christ or would you cast judgment on them and push them away?” That’s a tough question that really stretches what we believe as Christians.
When we say that Christ died that “all” might be saved, we have to remember that “all” includes everyone. It even includes the people we find ABHORRENT. There’s your Harvard word of the day. Abhorrent means that you feel repulsed by something, but to the highest degree you can imagine. When you’ve just gotten done stuffing your face with Golden Corral, seeing someone eat a deep-fried stick of butter is probably “abhorrent” to you. You can’t stand it. When we see people that we find “abhorrent”, it’s important to note that Christ died even for them.
Take a look with me at Luke 10:25-37. This is the story of the “Good Samaritan” that many of you already know. I want to highlight a few details of this story that maybe you didn’t realize before. First, what is a Samaritan? A Samaritan is a HALF-BREED of the Jewish community. They pop up when you have some of these pagan nations of conquered Israel and inter-married. The fact that they have roots in pagan faiths led to them being considered abhorrent to good, God-fearing Jews. In fact, the Jews found them so abhorrent that it was said that even eating a piece of BREAD from any source that touched a Samaritan made you just as unclean as if you had eating pork. If you aren’t aware of why that’s a big deal, check out Leviticus sometime… eating pork was considered an affront to God and a sin. That means that merely associating with a Samaritan was actually SINFUL.
Now let’s take a look at this story in Luke.
25 Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the law?” he asked him. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind;” and “your neighbor as yourself.”
28 “You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus took up the question and said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion.34 He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oiland wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day[a] he took out two denarii,[b] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.’
36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said.
Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:25-37)
We see a few interesting things in this interaction. First, look at the set-up to the story. The scribe wasn’t just asking an interesting question or a cultural “hot-topic” item. The scribe was distinctly asking what he must DO to attain eternal life. Christ turns the question back on the scribe and the scribe correctly says that he must love the Lord above all else and love your neighbor as yourself. That’s when it gets interesting.
Jesus launches into this story about a Jew sitting on the side of a road who is mugged and beaten. This man is laying there half dead. Down the road comes a PRIEST and later comes a LEVITE. These people are good, God-fearing people who go to church. They are the people who know right from wrong and set the example for all of us. Both of them pass by the Jew, fearing for their own lives.
[Insert more interesting facts about the road to Jericho, the ‘logical decision making’ of the Priest, and the status of a Levite.]
When the Samaritan… the dejected half-breeds of Jewish society… SEES the Jew, he CARES for him and does EVERYTHING to see him cared for. The Samaritan didn’t just “do a nice gesture”; he gave everything for this Jew that he didn’t even know.
When Jesus finished the parable, He asked the scribe who acted like a neighbor and the scribe replied ‘the one who SHOWED MERCY ON THE MAN’. You can tell how much hate existed between these individuals because the scribe couldn’t even stand to say “SAMARITAN”. Jesus replies, “Go and do the same.”
What a crazy calling. The world kind-of understands the idea of being merciful and graceful. Sometimes I think church people like to think that being “nice” is unknown to the world. If the world was just looking for nice people, they could go walk up to a Wal-Mart greeter. If we really want to know what the world doesn’t understand, it’s being able to identify people who hurt you deeply and realizing that they need Christ just as much as you do AND realizing that Christ died for them just as much as he died for us. Living for Christ means living in a way that the world deems unusual. It means realizing that we are all created in the image of God and that we realize that God desires for all to run to Him. The challenge for us is to love regardless of what the conditions may be.