When I first wrote the parable of the good Samaritan in my book, I thought it might be cute to paraphrase, add my own inner voices, and produce a story that was more compelling than the one we can find in the gospels. (boy was that stupid!!) Not the story. The Story isn’t stupid. Just the idea that I could make it better. HA!
As I started living with the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10, I started asking questions.
- Why do we always think the Good Samaritan is about helping people in need?
- Why do we miss the obvious overtones of the culture Jesus was trying to point out?
- Why is this so hard to live out?
If you re-read the story through the lens of cultural sensitivity, you’ll quickly see the story has little to do with the priest or the levite. It has everything to do with the Lawyer at the beginning of the story.
“Teacher, What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered, “What’s written in the law?
“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.” the lawyer quickly retorted.
“You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Jesus said.
And then the story goes on to explain how the samaritan was actually the real neighbor to the man who was jumped by the robbers, and then left for dead.
The Missing Point
So why do we brush off the fact that Jesus answered the most simple of questions. How do you inherit eternal life?
Jesus said, “Love God, and Love your Neighbor.” PERIOD!
He didn’t say pray a prayer.
He didn’t say go and participate in a mantra.
He didn’t even say practice religion.
Jesus said, Love God and Love Others. “Do this and you’ll live.”
Why do we make it more complicated than it is?
And what if we actually did this? What if we took Jesus at his word and just said “All the law and the prophets hang on this.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
It’s too simple, right?
Surely I have to do some sort of penance for God to like me.
We have to Stand up for something, and call out something else, right?
But as a matter of fact, Jesus didn’t call the man to do penance or judge anything. He just said, Love God and Love your Neighbor, and then the whole Samaritan story was the illustration for who the neighbor actually is.
What if eternal life has been so convoluted that we’ve missed the point? We’ve replaced Jesus with theology. We’ve substituted the simple for the complicated. We’ve laced the beauty of loving others with the religion of self doubt, self worth, and self…well….self. Today it’s all about my personal relationship, my experience at my church, my feeling about the teacher at the pulpit, my view of the worship, my understanding of community.
But quite simply, Jesus just said, Love God and Love Others.
So if it’s so simple, what is it in your life that keeps you from loving God and Loving others?
A feeling of that’s not enough?
Maybe we should just go back to the basics and take Jesus for his word. Love God. Love Others. I wonder what would happen if we just did that?