“‘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.'” (Luke 10:27-29) was how the religious expert responded.
“‘Right!’ Jesus told him. ‘Do this and you will live!'”
Evidently the guy thought about this and what it might look like and, as people haven’t changed much in 2000 years, the Bible said he wanted to justify his actions.
“Who is my neighbor?”
So Jesus, all-knowing God and very wise man, told him the story of the good Samaritan.
You know the story. A man, mugged and beaten, lies dying by the side of the road while people who are supposed to care pass by, not just blindly ignorant but intentionally crossing to the other side of the road. And then a kind traveler, a stranger from an area others shunned, went out of his way to take care of him.
Neighbor. Jesus’ answer was pretty clear.
- A neighbor is someone we go out of our way to love.
The nice people next door are not the only people I am to love. My church community group? Not my only people to love on.
In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul says, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
Am I walking in love?
Walking in love. That doesn’t really sound like smiley-faced-have-a-blessed-day Christianity. That sounds a lot to me like being the feet of Jesus. Like something I have to go out of my way to do.
It sounds like a person taking care of a dying man that no one else loves. Or possibly like a person caring for Ebola patients when no one else will come near. Maybe it means, as it does for one dear friend, passing out a whole lot of popsicles so the neighborhood kids will play in her yard and know the love of Jesus.
The Samaritan’s sweet-smelling sacrifice was the wine and oil he used to dress the wounds. Health care workers offer up the aroma of antiseptics. My friend’s offering delights God with the scent of grape popsicles.
What does it smell like when I go out of my way to show someone the love of Jesus?
Coffee? Cleaning solution? Cinnamon rolls? I don’t know. I just know that I need to do a better job of looking for the person by the side of the road.
“Oh Father, as we come to You, asking You to show us our calling, to give us a ministry, thinking we can do wonderful things for You – help us please to remember to walk in love. Open our eyes Lord, to the hurts of those around us, to people we can love on in your name. Help us to be bold and to smell sweet to You.”
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love…And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:8,16