We have lived in different houses … terraced houses … semi-detached houses … a detached house. When I was a child Mum and Dad were the responsible adults and I was just a child. Now as a grown-up and the responsible adult I have a few thoughts on these words …
“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”” Luke 10:29
Who is my neighbour?
The bible offers a parable in reply: “John Doe is your neighbour.” And illustrates the point with an unclean, unchosen, one of “them”.
I was taught “John Doe” was my neighbour. People I don’t know. People in whom I am not “invested” – which is everyone not family or friends.
I took that teaching to heart (more on that later) AND to combine that parable with “The Great Commission”. Which is why feeding starving third-world mouths whilst telling the hungry recipients about God is how things are done.
Now … I was taught not to look a gift-horse in the mouth … nor to bite the hand that feeds me … (and I am not starving)!
Which makes the whole thing to my mind “invested” and conditional – even in a percentages way – but links “MY God” and “conditional love” for ever and ever amen.
Anyway .. back to “neighbours” …
I like a quiet life. I like a tidy street. I like to live in a place which is safe. Kind of community-without-the-interaction “investment”. My neighbours are really the ones who live next door – or a few houses up – or in the next street – or who walk by my house day-after-day.
But “The Great Commission” (with enticing goodies) doesn’t work with them. They live in houses just like mine, they dress like I dress (kind of), they have a job like I do … a car usually better than ours … take holidays probably better than ours … have lives probably busier than ours … And (to be frank) a lot of them are not people I want to spend time with.
I’ve knocked on their doors when I volunteered for Cancer this or that. I saw their shifty looks … heard their blatant lies … saw their “How do I not give a penny but also not look cheap” ….
“Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?‘ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” V 36-37
Any thoughts God Jesus … ?
This parable is about Unconditional Love. Right now right here and right next door. About my state of mind … my way of living … my way of being …
“Faith or Deeds” misses the point … “Love is a verb” misses the point … even being “(intentionally) kind” misses the point … all those neat (motivational) phrases of Christianese miss the point …
Unconditional means “unconditional”.
And more and more I believe that this bible we love to preach and teach means just that: No Conditions.
Not of “our” reward for believing. Not a benchmark for the saints and the celeb Christians. Not for when we die and meet our Maker. None of that.
I believe unconditional love is a teaching for each of us – all us “John Doe’s” of this world … Me … You … All of Us.
Think back to “getting saved” …
Believe this and do that … get saved and get this … do this and you will get that … But don’t believe this … don’t get that … don’t do this … and guess what … ? You get what’s coming … and it’s bad … and you can’t say I didn’t warn you …
It was NEVER about that for me. It was about now … this second and the next …
More and more I wonder if the bible – as so often taught – constricts the teaching and preaching of Jesus. A teaching that is ONLY about Love WITHOUT condition. A preaching that is ONLY about love WITHOUT condition.
More and more I wonder whether the eternal counting and debate about numbers is more to do with the “shepherds”. The qualified shepherds who teach and preach that it is because God loves us that we must do this and that and the other (out of OUR love – obviously). I wonder …
Is God really that small-minded?