Monday, September 12, 2016

The Good Muslim (Updated!)

(This is a paraphrase of Luke 10:25-37 as I imagine it in America in 2016)

On one occasion a biblical scholar stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What does the Bible say?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was traveling from Manhattan to Brooklyn, when he was attacked and mugged. They stripped him of his clothes, took his wallet and phone, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  
A local pastor happened to be going down the same street, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 
Also, a seminarian when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side of the road. 
But a Muslim man, 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, pulling him out of harm's way. Then he put the man in his own car, brought him to a hotel and took care of him, cleaning up the blood and buying him a new set of clothes. The next day he took out $100 and gave it to the hotel manager. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I get back I will reimburse you for any extra expenses you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of criminals?”

The biblical scholar replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Food for thought, you guys. 

Do we only love those who look like us? 
            Who believe like us? 
                        Who share our faith, our sexuality, our skin color? 

The scandal of this story is that Jesus could easily have told a story about a rabbi or a priest whose actions matched up with their beliefs.... yet in so many of these stories, the religious are the bad guys...

We already know this, but it really doesn't matter what you say, or what you project your life to look like, if you don't have LOVE for others. On one occasion, Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs, "which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean" (Matthew 23:27). 

1 Corinthians 13 has been a beautiful platitude for weddings for years, yet we often look right over the glaring indictment against our kind of Christianity. "IF I DO NOT HAVE LOVE, I AM NOTHING."

How can we show a person the God of grace when we fail to show them the grace of God?

I am baffled by the calloused and cold response I see on a daily basis by so many who claim Jesus. Suicide, war, homelessness, grief, death, destruction - it is all around us... yet for some reason it does not MOVE us. 

Jesus looked over Jerusalem and wept, because he was so overcome by the brokenness (Luke 19:41). 
I am also struck by Jesus' response in Matthew 9:36. "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

Back to the story:
The shocking twist ending of this is that neither of the religious leaders or moral leaders in the story were lauded by Jesus. Instead, the "neighbor" to be loved "as oneself" was someone who was reviled and unclean according to Jewish custom - a Samaritan. And yes, a Samaritan in the ancient middle-east was viewed the same way that Muslim refugees are viewed in America today. 

So I come back to my earlier question:

Do we only love those who look like us? 
            Who believe like us? 
                        Who share our faith, our sexuality, our skin color? 

The Muslim refugee is my neighbor.
The transsexual person is my neighbor. 
The Black Lives Matter activist is my neighbor. 

And I am to love them all as myself. 

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