7/1/2018 – Luke 10:25-37

by admin on July 1, 2018

7/1/2018 – Message Audio

Principles Jesus Taught – 1 

Mother Theresa

Luke 10: 25-37

1 July 2018

 

Let’s make this clear at the outset…and worth repeating every Sunday, because we forget…Jesus had a very high estimation of the importance of grace in life.  The spiritual life…Xns call it discipleship…..is a process of exultation: lifting up, clearly emphasizing that it is God who is the active agent; and the disciple is the one who is lifted up.  Our spiritual journey is less about the work we do to reach God, than it is about creating a space in our lives for God to reach us. 

 

What Jesus Kingdom project is about is the making of that space, that hallowed ground, in our lives which allows God to roam free.   This morning we will embark on a few weeks discussion on the principles Jesus taught.  Perhaps a better word would be touchstones, keystones, pivots and fulcrums upon which the whole of life moves and gives leverage.

 

What Jesus ministry and mission are about is the creation of a transformed self.  If you jusr read the first 11 verses in Mark’s gospel fives times the idea of a changed life from the inside out is mentioned.  What gives?  It just might be important.   Other people call this idea: the basic self: the solid self.  It is the best that is in us and constantly prods us to think and act better.  

 

On more than one occasion I have called the Xn life: a qualitatively different life.  Meaning?  It’s doable for starters, and it’s completely foreign to our default positions. Counter-intuitive.   These so called principles, we’ll consider five, are about creating that space which allows God to work and reach us.  They open us to consider new thinking, act in different ways, to reach beyond our comfort zones and to take risks.  Oh, ohà Jesus and risk? 

 

Today is the Mother Theresa principle:  go and hang around someone not like you and do something for them that never in a million years could they ever pay you back. 

 

Go and read something about Mother Theresa for starters.   First off that exercise will get us to consider a real live ordinary human being doing something extraordinary.  She spent her whole life in Calcutta ministering to the lost, rejected and dying.  Reading about her will also open the doors to consider how her faith was challenged and grew.   When we read about people like this we discover that their spiritual journey is a lot like ours—fits and starts, up and down, always on the move. 

 

I can’t think of any better gospel story to illustrate Jesus teaching on the Mother Theresa principle than the Good Samaritan.

 

To even call it the parable of The Good Samaritan is to already set the table for the usual understanding.  That’s much of our problem with Jesus—we think we already know it all, that we know this stuff, that once we label it, we got it.  Notice however that neither the word “parable” nor “good” is even mentioned.  Be open to hearing this in a new way today.

 

 

WHAT? 

Luke’s chapter 10 begins with the mission of the 70, to go 2×2, on ahead…the advance team.  Travel light Jesus tells them, only a comb and toothbrush.  And tell people this:  God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep.  The group returns all giddy at their success, but Jesus cuts short the celebration saying that the great triumph is not “your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and his presence in you.”  It’s not what you do for God, but what God does for you—that’s worth rejoicing.

 

Now all of a sudden comes this beloved story as practical counsel on what it means to have God’s presence in you.

 

V25à A legal expert poses a question: how do I get in on this salvation stuff?

V26à Jesus asks two questions in return (answers questions with questions)

V27à  Shema Israel.

V28à Jesus: no pro–simply do this and you’ll get it

V29à plot thickens:  now I need to justify myself:  who’s my neighbor?

V30à An anonymous man (anyone, everyone) got mugged and robbed on the Jericho road. He was abandoned for dead. (raises purity issues)

V31-32à Just by coincidence: priest, Levite.

V33à  BUT…..a guy form the wrong side of the tracks acted as God does.

V34-35à Gave first aid, took him to safety, provided for continuing care

V36à Jesus: of the three, which was the real neighbor? 

V37à Stuck with a dilemma the man answers the third man.  Go and be like that.

 

SO WHAT?

  1. The question from the legal guy intrudes abruptly into the story line here. His concerns are certainly parallel to Jesus emphasis on hearing and doing, but the plot could easily continue with the next story, Mary and Martha with Jesus on the road. What’s up with intrusion? 

 

Kingdom opportunity, and God’s work in life, might just be considered intrusive. Certainly the Samaritan driving down the road hadn’t planned on stopping.  It just sort of happened.  Look at the way the first two religious men handle the situation:  dead guy on the road?  Dealing with that would be inconvenient. 

 

Do abrupt intrusions inconvenience you?  How might all this interruption be invitation from God to pry into our closed up comfortable thinking?  The big R-word looms here: risk.  It was MT who called the poor of the world “Jesus distressing disguise.”

 

  1. There’s a lot of ambiguity lurking. The law student comes with a question about salvation; discovers that it’s centered in the Torah (Shema Israel) and is invited to actually try it out and do it. However, at stake here is the precise definition of neighbor.

 

Jesus never actually gives the answer instead he leads the man to discover it for himself.  Jesus’ parable begins ambiguously on purpose: a certain man = no one in particular.  He ends up in the ditch, stripped of his identity: he could be a friend, or he could be an enemy.  Depending on which one you choose, how does your selection determine your action?

 

This ties in directly to a favorite theme in Luke—carefully observant people press to justify themselves, either by citing rules or precedent. It says so right here in the book; we’ve always done it this way before. But even more importantly, self justification arises when we are in the context of others.  It’s the pressure for togetherness that often prevails, short-circuiting our Kingdom thinking.  If we just all hold hands and sing KumByYah everything will work out. 

 

Anthony DeMello tells of the five Buddhist monks sent on a mission with four of them being detoured all for righteous and upright reasons.  He concludes: religious activity is my favorite escape from God.  

 

  1. To speak of the parable of the Good Samaritan already controls the way we hear this story. I already said good never appears here.  How interesting that GS laws are passed in state legislatures by many people who have no idea of this story.

 

Here Jesus is not giving a little talk on morality or the legality of helping others.  He is saying observing the law of God (Shema Israel) is about the KofG activity of mercy and service.  These two go together.  Once again the theme: way of life vs. body of belief.

 

Jesus two questions: what’s in the Torah? How do you understand it? are divisive; they are the launch pad of controversy.   We could argue till the cows come home about the meaning here.   Jesus is a whole lot more interested in the doing.  The will of God is no secret—doing it is possible.   (Which is what the Robert Schuller principle is about.)

Isn’t it more fun to stay sidetracked?

 

NOW WHAT?

  1. What do you think the victim here thought when his help came from his enemy?

The concept of neighbor shifts from being a tag I may or may not apply to somebody to being a quality or calling that I take upon myself and actively live out.   Quality.  Jesus invites us to and empowers us for that qualitatively different life.

 

Any idea that faith is a private matter is absolutely wrongheaded. It’s an easy cover-up for never attending to spiritual growth.  That’s why discipleship is a long haul project.   How many people do you know who have been church members their whole lives but you’d never know it.   Qualitatively different life. Counter-intuitive.

 

The way to eternal life?  Notice—the way, not the arrival.  The way is to allow yourself to become an active instrument and channel of that same boundary breaking hospitality that God in Jesus is all about. 

 

  1. It’s the Samaritan who shows compassion and therefore does Shema Israel. Watch for rationalizations that keep Mother Theresa’s principle at bay. Jesus scandalous question is: who proved to be the neighbor? Prove = acted accordingly. 

 

According to what?  The Kingdom values.  Name some:  mercy…..risk….generosity….human concern…..practical attention.

You know you’re in Kingdom territory when you feel and know your limits are being stretched.

 

To wrap this all up I share the story of Penny from Mother Theresa’s A Simple Path.

 

 

THE SIMPLE PATH

The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

 

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