The Problem With Clean Christianity: Lessons from the Good Samaritan.

#MeditationMonday‬ – Out of the abundance of a man’s heart, his mouth speaks.

Welcome, dearly beloved. I pray the mercies of God over you throughout this week. I hope to encourage and build you up in the Lord. Today’s passage is taken from Luke 10: 25 – 37. As you grow in knowledge and understanding, of these verses, please be empowered to share your convictions with those around you.

Luke 10: 25 – 37 [ESV]

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.”And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 

Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

The passage starts off with the very important question “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”, (vs. 25) therefore this parable, also goes ultimately to answer this question, rather than being limited to the question “who is my neighbour?” in vs 29.

Even after being told the answer to his first question, the lawyer still desired to justify himself! (vs 28 – 29). Sometimes, many of us act like this. We know the answer, but our pride keeps us from simply accepting the truth, instead, we seek to ‘justify ourselves’.

This type of action is called “Clean Christianity”.

People who live this lifestyle hate getting any dirt on themselves. They want to keep everything clean by always justifying themselves. Clean Christianity is “all about me” while real Christianity is “about everyone else”.

If we’re called to look like Jesus, the first rule would be to live for others. In scripture Jesus lived for everyone but himself.

Real Christianity requires our time and energy. Exhausting our prayer lives and possibly fasting on behalf of our friends. This is difficult because we like clean Christianity. Nothing about Christianity is clean. It is filled with dirty, filthy, sin-ridden people in desperate need of Jesus.

Going back to our story, when you see a half-dead man on the street, your first instinct is to dial 911 (or whatever emergency number). But on second thought, what if you get accused of putting the man in that condition and become the prime suspect in that case. In that situation, was dialling 911 worth it? Wouldn’t it have been better to talk away and save yourself all that trouble?

You see the Priest and Levite in vs. 30-31 “by chance” happened to be going down “the same road” as the Samaritan who needed help. Yet the half-dead man received help from a Samaritan, who was a complete stranger!

Often times God places people “by chance” on “the same road” we’re on. How many times have we met such people and failed to help them because we assumed it was just a coincidence or a matter of chance?

How many times have we met strangers on the same life path as us but failed to help them out because it was too much of a burden on us or it would likely land us in some kind of trouble?

The Samaritan’s remarkable display of compassion truly echoes the lifestyle of Jesus. He always acted as a “neighbour” and “good Samaritan” whenever he encountered those in need of help. He mercifully and compassionately healed the sick of their diseases and fed them physically and spiritually.

Jesus also took dirty broken sinners and he uses them mightily. Scripture is full of people who committed murder, adultery and prostitution, yet Jesus rescued them all for His purpose and glory!

Mercy is a dirty business. It is not clean or pretty. It requires you to mess up your own plans to cater to another person’s needs. The good Samaritan is a clear example of this. Unlike the Levite and Priest, he did not place his travel plans above the needs of the dying man.

Rescue is an action verb, it is not passive. It requires physical action. A conversation to warn a friend of impending danger may be sufficient in some cases, but in others, it may require more. If it takes more, we need to be willing to do more. Rescuing a person in danger requires you to put yourself in the same danger. You have to put yourself at risk to help save another person. This is real Christianity.

Every time we fulfil the great commission, we demonstrate and repeat the risk Christ took by placing himself on the cross to die for us.

When someone is standing in the middle of a busy highway, we can yell and scream at the person but the best intervention is to take action by running out and pulling the person to safety. It takes boldness, courage and requires some effort.

In a world where actions speak louder than words, we must be willing to speak through our actions when it comes to rescuing others from eternal damnation.

Many of us like clean Christianity, which is often filled with planned and organised compassion. We want to schedule our moments of compassion. We organise visits to prisons, orphanages, old people homes and disabled people, feed them, clothe them, share the word with them, take some photo ops, share the photos on social media and call it a day.

Well, I’ve done my bit, we say to ourselves, as we ignore the homeless man on the street. Not anymore, because this passage shows that Jesus calls us to a higher standard by saying “go and do likewise”. 

In a word where seeing is believing, we cannot shut our eyes to avoid the pain of others when we know deep in our hearts that it exists. We turn our heads when we see a homeless person on the street corner, or change the channel when we hear about children dying of hunger in another country but deep down we know they didn’t disappear just because we aren’t looking!

They are still there, they just aren’t in our realm of existence.

For some strange reason, if we can’t see suffering, we feel better about ourselves because it excuses their need in our minds. This is a selfish approach because of our focus shifts from the poor and the hungry to ourselves. We think a share, like or RT is enough and never bother to think of how much more we can do! In such a situation we are like the priest and the Levite who passed by the person in need rather than the good Samaritan.

Salvation Is An Act of Mercy

The story of the good Samaritan also draws links to the greater salvation story. The Priest is like the law which cannot save, the Levite is like us; we cannot save ourselves either and the Samaritan is like grace.

Where sin abounds, grace superabounds!

Not only did the Samaritan tend to his wounds, he also paid for his care in the inn and promised the innkeeper to pay for whatever future costs occurred. This reflects Jesus on the cross, rescuing us from our sins and paying for our all our future mistakes!

Our salvation is an act of God’s mercy:

“In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy”  [Titus 3:5 & 1 Peter 1:3].

When we share the gospel with others to bring them to salvation, we demonstrate the same mercy. The lawyer (expert in the law) who asked Jesus the question recognised grace through the merciful actions of the good Samaritan. He recognised that a true neighbour is the one who shows mercy in the darkest moments. We can no longer continue in our clean Christianity and planned moments of compassion. Being a real neighbour is about being there in the dirtiest moments, not just when it is clean and comfortable!

Grace & Peace

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