Together, we have studied some hard teachings of Jesus over the past month and a half. I hope it has been both an encouragement to follow Jesus daily with even more surrender and abandon, and I hope it has been a challenge to really get honest about the choices we are making daily and whether they actually are helping us or hindering us from living out the mission that Jesus intended for His church.
I love our church family. We have so many families who are living sent daily in so many different ways. We have so many individuals who are giving themselves away, listening to the promptings of Jesus to love and then actually loving like He did. Jen and I are so thankful for our church family, like none we have ever walked with before.
I want to confess something, though. I am too busy. Too busy justifying how busy I am. Too busy focusing on pursuits that I am not sure really matter to Jesus. Too busy ignoring needs I come across both directly and indirectly. And too busy to actually know and love my neighbor and lead my family to do the same.
I wonder if Jesus wants us to simply believe that He loves us like He said and showed and then live daily to show that love intentionally in all that we do and everywhere we go and to everyone we meet, so that they might simply believe that He loves them like He said and like He showed through how we show it.
The people “in our way.” Along our path. Whether directly, like we bump into them, or indirectly, like we become aware of them. As we are going, love your neighbor, learn and live the ways of Jesus in front of them and with them, calling them to be baptized into a loving family, teaching them to learn and live the ways of Jesus as they are going, too. Matthew 28:18–20 certainly commands this. And so does the following story that Jesus shared with a man trying to justify how busy he was pursuing personal preferences rather than living on the mission God intended.
Check out this passage from Luke 10:
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” 27 The man answered, “`You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, `Love your neighbor as yourself.'” 28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” 29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. 31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,s telling him, `Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ 36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. 37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
A few honest questions:
:: am I so busy having to justify my pursuits to Jesus that I am blind to the fact that I am not actually pursuing what matters to Him?
:: am I so busy in my pursuit of personal piety that I ignore the people in my way who might be dirtier than me?
:: am I so busy in my pursuit of daily following through on accepted traditions that I ignore anyone and anything that might interrupt me?
:: am I willing to pause in my daily pursuit in order to meet a need that is either directly in my way or that I am indirectly aware of?
Love who is “in your way.” Could that really be the primary responsibility of the church? I would suggest so. And I think Jesus suggested and commanded it, too.
The implications are significant. I don’t have to spend my time trying to justify myself and live right FOR Jesus. I get to live WITH Him as we love the people along our path. I don’t have to feel overwhelmed like I have to meet every need on earth. I get to experience the abundance of sacrificial love giving myself away in every facet (more than just writing a check) by relating with and pouring into both the people I directly come into contact with as well as the people whose needs I indirectly become aware of. I don’t have to feel hopeless like I don’t have enough to give. I get to follow the One who is enough and who has promised that He will keep supplying my needs as I live and give out of the riches of His Kingdom and His love rather than feeling limited by my own supply.
Just love who is “in your way.” Am I too busy to do that? Then I may be too busy to follow Jesus.
TOGETHER, may we simply love and listen to Jesus. TOGETHER, may we simply love and relate with our neighbors. And TOGETHER, may we not ignore the needs of those directly and indirectly “in our way.”