Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. How has your life gone this week? I would love to hear the blessings that have poured upon you. In fact, I’m sure that could bolster all of us. But let me ask you, what issues have caused you pain? What has strained your soul? Some of you are, no doubt, asking why am I focusing on the negative? Why am I scratching at the irritants, digging at the abrasions, and focusing on the pain? I found myself asking this same thing. Especially since I have been reading the story of The Good Samaritan. Do you remember this story? Let’s review it.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’” (Luke 10:30-35)
All the times I have encountered this story I have focused on the Good Samaritan, the person who was filled with compassion and put aside his distrust and ill feelings and helped someone in need. We learn that to help our neighbor, to love our neighbor, we see that person with the eyes of someone who lives the Enduring Principle “The Worth of All People”.
But there is another story here. There is the story of the divisions that cause us to distrust and pull apart from one another. Perhaps we have to identify those issues whether it be about social status, religious views, gender equality, gender identification, or whatever way we define “us” versus “them”.
Let me ask you what conditions (characteristics) might make you hesitate to help a person in need. Think of people you might describe as angry, outspoken, homeless, non-conforming, troubled, unclean, or mentally ill. What would you add? What about your neighbor – what do you think they would add?
Now I want you to fill in those characteristics using Love Your Neighbor.
Love Your Neighbor.
Love your ___________ neighbor.
Love your ___________ neighbor.
Love you ____________ neighbor.
You get the idea.
Now you need to ask yourself, what about these conditions make you respond the way you do?
We are challenged to love those neighbors who make us uncomfortable, those neighbors who upset us and don’t agree with us, and those neighbors who don’t love us back.
We must identify our issues and find a way to love each other despite our disagreements and our divisions. And that is part of our mission.
Dear God, forgive us our transgressions and help us learn from one another. You love us all. Help us embody your love as we struggle to love one another. Help us open our eyes, open our arms and open our hearts every day and truly live your commandment to love one another. Amen.
Author: Bonnie Barber
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.