Saturday, July 12, 2014

Luke 10:30-37 -- On Love and Preconceptions

"And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."
Luke 10:30-37

The story of the Good Samaritan... always a good read.  What strikes me today is the significance of the people that walked by.  Both a priest and a Levite.  We are warned elsewhere in scripture that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and that we shouldn't divide ourselves by titles, ranks, or riches (3 Nephi 6:12), and even that, as much as we would like some things to be meritocratic, it doesn't usually work that way (Ecclesiastes 9:11)... and we usually think, yeah, that's right, that makes sense.  We should work for equality.  We should do the Zion thing and work on loving each other... just like in this story.  We should be the good neighbor and help the person rather than walking away, or avoiding.  Sometimes though, we think that somehow that same message doesn't apply to titles in the church.  That somehow *those* ones are an exception, and that God definitely respects this person more because of a title or because he was chosen as an administrator.
Now, please don't misunderstand me on this.  I am not encouraging disrespect towards anyone.  And I am not urging anyone to disrespect the callings God offers to anyone either.  ... But I am saying that it doesn't make us unequal or better if we have a calling or position and someone else doesn't, even in the church.  Titles and ranks and callings don't make a difference to God.  Compassion and obedience do.  Service, and love, and dedication, even if we have a tiny sphere of influence.  Hopefully, in most cases, those titles and positions go hand-in-hand with compassion and goodness.  But in this story they didn't, and the same is sometimes true in real life.  We don't always earn what we're given, or respect our authority or obligations.  And the answer to that is always to do better.  A Samaritan back in the time when Christ told this story was not a respected or loved group at all.  It might be like saying... I don't know, a gang member, or a used car salesman, or a member of the [whichever political party you dislike] party came along.  ... God here is making a point about love, but also about preconceptions.
When God wasn't pleased with Cain's offering, he said "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?"  ... In this story and elsewhere, we learn that it is what we learn to be that matters... our behavior, the person that we become.  We could have the best position in the world, the most money, the coolest stuff, the best friends, and it wouldn't matter a pebble to God, if we weren't choosing good things, and becoming good people.  If we walked by people in need.  Today, let's work on letting go of our obsession with titles and labels, and simply do well.  Let's show compassion for the people around us.  Let's help people that are in trouble.  Let's be good, and do what it takes, and look past the titles to get the rest of the story.

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