If anything, the Lord Jesus Christ – the way, the truth, and the life – was, and is …
Candid and clear. Good and gusty. Life-giving and loving. Open and outspoken. Real and relevant.
And so, if Jesus told us Christians here in southeast Texas one of our favorite Bible stories today – and I do mean right here and right now – it would not at all surprise me if he worded it this way …
A southeast Texas Christian stood up to test this one who called himself Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to be right with the Good Lord?”
Jesus replied, “What does it say in the Old Testament? How do you interpret it?”
He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you’ll have life with God.”
But the southeast Texas Christian had an agenda and wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is it exactly that is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied, “A man went down from new Mont Belvieu to the state streets in old Baytown. Along the way he got car-jacked. The crooks made him strip naked, beat him nearly to death, and then left him in shock beside the curb.
Now it just so happened that a church elder was also traveling that way just a minute after the man’s attackers had fled. He saw the injured man, but not wanting to get involved and fearing the attackers were still close-by, sped on, pretending not to notice. Likewise, a moment later, a Christian preacher drove by the man. He too saw the bleeding man, but he didn’t stop either due to the same fears. But a Muslim who was also going down that same street saw the man, was moved with compassion for him, immediately stopped his car and ran over to him. The Muslim bandaged the wounded man’s injuries with what he had on hand, placed the injured man in his own car, took him to the nearest hospital ER, and made sure he was cared for there. The next day, the Muslim went to the hospital’s billing department and gave them two full days’ worth of wages. As he did so he told the people in the billing department, ‘Take care of that man and know that I’m good for backing up whatever he gets billed.’ Now what do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered the assailants?”
Then the southeast Texas Christian said, “The one who showed the man mercy, giving him aid.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
May we not compartmentalize any part of our heart or mind, allowing anger, assumption, condemnation, gossip, hate, insinuation, judging, lies, prejudice, presumption, pride, slander, resentment, and/or suspicion to live and rule there.
May we never forget the scandal and offensiveness of the cross, the heart of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
May those of us who claim to know it best apply it to ourselves before we think of sharing it with others.
May we not blindly, unthinkingly imitate the ways of the world.
And may we ever love everyone Jesus does. No exceptions.