I was reading a post on FB about Islam and there was so much hatred from every side.  Not just Muslims or Christians but Athiest, Agnostics and everything in between.  If you consume any sort of media whether it’s radio, tv or internet you’re likely to break the commandments.

You say, “But Josh, I am not committing adultery/theft/killing, etc.

While we could unpack that one, I want to focus on what Jesus said.   Jesus was asked about the commandments and His exchange was not unlike what we see playing out from supposed “good people.”

And a certain lawyer stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

 

Jesus said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

 

And he replied, “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.

 

Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this habitually and you will live.

So love God and put him first (how we doing out there?) and then … wait for it.  Love others.

I can sense even myself tuning this out but something hit me yesterday when I was reading, there’s a second part to this famous scripture that just got me when I read it.

But he, wishing to justify and vindicate himself, asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?

and WHO is my Neighbor? (I hope it’s not THEM).

This starts the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It’s easy to jump to the great parable and start imagining helping that wounded person but we don’t struggle with the Samaritan, we struggle just as the lawyer did.  It’s that question that makes me think, “I’m breaking the commandments.”  Who is my neighbor?   Jesus told the is story because He knew that this lawyer was one who was just hoping Jesus would give the Jewish answer.  The answer that says, “All Jews are your neighbor,” and at the same time the unspoken answer, “Samaritans are not your neighbor.”    The answer was the one you call vile and talk about with your friends… THAT’s your neighbor.    You know, “THOSE” people.

So the real question is who is “THEY” in your life. 

Who are you thinking about?  Is it someone that might identify with the LBGT crowd?  How about someone who’s got a different ethnicity than you?  When I asked myself this question I jumped immediately to the terrorists.    It’d be easy to think of extreme evil like I did, but I think if the events have anything to speak to us this year, it’s that our challenge isn’t with the obvious evil out there, it’s with our neighbors.

“Yeah, but I tell them, ‘I don’t agree with you but I love you.'”

Right now, for most of the “theys” in your life if you were to say, “I love you, I just don’t agree…” your response will be received with disdain.   The reason is clear.  The time for TALKING is over.  Talk is cheap, anyone and everyone has opinions and words are used so fleetingly they’ve lost the heavy weight that they carry.  Don’t mistake my writing, words still have the power to lift up and tear down.  A trip to FB will leave you less happy simply from reading it.

We’ve abused our ability to speak so much that our good intentions are no longer taken at face value.  Our constructive criticism is just deconstruction.

So what’s the solution?  ACTION.

Find your “THEY” and befriend them.   Don’t critique how … anything.  That does not mean stand by and support any behavior that you don’t agree with.

Do what Jesus did.   He ate with the known sinners.  Matthew was a tax collector at the time, paramount to our modern day mafia.   He didn’t condone what Matthew did but He loved him.   SHOW YOUR LOVE.

You’ve heard this before, but, “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”   I think we could rewrite that for 2016, it’d be no one cares what you say, until they see how much you care.

As we write our goals for 2017, let’s make a difference in one of “them’s” life.   Pick someone you’re thinking about (I know you are), you likely might need to apologize, perhaps repent to them, buy them lunch/coffee and dig in deep.  Get to know the person.  See them for the masterpiece they are that God handcrafted as your brother or sister.   Don’t get hung up on whether they see the world differently than you.  See the potential that God see that can use their fresh perspective to change the world.

 

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