“Neighborliness is not a quality in other people; it is simply their claim on ourselves. Every moment and every situation challenges us to action and to obedience. We have literally no time to sit down and ask ourselves whether so-and-so is our neighbor or not” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship).

Who is my neighbor? That’s the question that the expert in Jewish law asked Jesus. In other words, who am I required to love?

Jesus turned the question around from “Who is my neighbor?” to “How am I being a good neighbor to those around me?”

So, a neighbor is anyone who is in need and who is within my power to help. I can’t help every single one in need, but I can meet the needs of those who are in front of me, and those by Jesus’ definition are my neighbors.

Ultimately, the Good Samaritan is a picture of Jesus Himself. I’m the one who foolishly took the dangerous road alone and ended up beaten up and robbed. I’m the one lying half-dead on the road whom the Neighbor spotted and had pity on.

That changes the parable quite a bit, doesn’t it? It means just as the Good Samaritan wasn’t the kind of hero the Jewish audience was expecting, Jesus wasn’t (and isn’t) the kind of Messiah we were expecting.

We prize physical strength and virility. We prize magazine-cover good looks. We love take-charge, grab-the-bull-by-the-horns people.

I wonder sometimes if we’d know Jesus as Messiah if He showed up today as He did almost two millennia ago. People were expecting someone to rally the people against Rome, but instead got a man who insisted that we turn the other cheek and go the extra mile.

Sure, Jesus overturned those tables in the Temple, but He also said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

I’m thankful most of all that in Jesus, I got not the kind of Savior I might have wanted, but the kind I so desperately needed. He loved ( and still loves) me just like I am but refuses to let me stay that way.

PS Credit for all of this goes to Mike Glenn, courtesy of tonight’s Kairos message. Check it out some Tuesday evening if you’re ever in the Brentwood/Greater Nashville area.


Things I Love 34: To Infinity and Beyond

island hammock

“Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow”  (Ann Voskamp).

“Thanksgiving-giving thanks in everything-prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ” (Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

“At the last, this is what will determine a fulfilling, meaningful life, a life that, behind all the facades, every one of us longs to live: gratitude for the blessings that expresses itself by becoming the blessing” (Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

I entertained thoughts about stretching this series to 2,000.  But then again, I’m much too lazy for that. Besides, I probably mentioned some things I love more than once, so these extras should compensate for my oversights. And I’m still having too much fun with it to stop now. So we pick up at #1,001.

1,001) Getting radically out of my comfort zone to serve at VBS with inner-city kids.

1,002) Any kind of a front or back porch swing.

1,003) Seeing videos and pictures of my Romanian friend’s wedding.

1,004) That I now have prayer books from three different faith aspects: Episcopalian (The Book of Common Prayer), Roman Catholic (The Liturgy of the Hours), and Jewish (Siddur: The  Traditional Prayer Book).

1,005) Packing school backpacks with school supplies and prayers to give to inner-city children.

1,006) That no one can make me feel anything. I choose my response and by the grace of God, I can respond to hate with love, anger with kindness, and mockery with respect.

1,007) Knowing that I’m not who I used to be or what I one day will be.

1,008) Walking through meadows filled with flowers.

1,009) That I finally grew out of eating ketchup sandwiches.

1,010) Being very nonlinear and random.

1,011) Hot showers in the morning to help me wake up.

1,012) Groupon deals.

1,013) Not having to worry about living anyone’s life but my own.

1,014) Those rare couples who stay pure in the midst of dating and don’t move in together until after they’re married.

1,015) Stopping my car at twilight to catch a family of deer running across the road.

1,016) Free books that the library gives away.

1,017) Free anything.

1,018) Finally figuring out how to do a screen capture on my iPhone.

1,019) Tiny flower pots. What do you plant in those?

1,020)  Fans blowing on me while I sleep.

1,021) The way the sunlight reflects off of Radnor Lake in the summer time.

1,022) Fallen pine needles strewn across the ground on an autumn afternoon.

1,023) The crunching sound of walking through dead leaves in the fall.

1,024) That you can’t say the word “rural” and not sound like you’ve had one too many.

1,025) Adele Live at Royal Albert Hall on blu ray.

1,026) The Amplified Bible.

1,027) Getting lost in a good book.

1,028) Model trains.

1,029) All the amazing people I’m going to see in heaven one day.

1,030) Spring reminding me of the hope that the Resurrection brings.

1,031) The scent of vanilla.

1,032) The clean feeling after I’ve just brushed my teeth.

1,033) The music of Duke Ellington.

1,034)Mechanical pencils.

1,035) That if I were to list every single thing in my life that I’m thankful for and that is really a gift, I’d have to blog until I’m as old as Methuselah to get everything down (and then I’d still leave something out).