He was a lean, mean, fighting machine. He was on top of the world, having been around it, and known all over it. As heavyweight champion of the world- his greatest fight was only rivaled by the pot of gold he amassed over his career, nearly $400 million. The only thing more impressive than the amount coming in was the spigot flowing out. He spent through the money faster than a grown man could chew through a human ear. Who could this be? Mike Tyson, of course! He may be the only person in the world that got an ear and lost a fortune, but the list of people who have gone from on top of the world to under it, from envied by millions to mocked, from hot to not is lengthy and lamentable. Although you may have never had the opportunity to lose millions, (don’t worry me either) in our spiritual lives, the same problem can creep up…We can be blessed with good intentions, motivation, eagerness, and even the resources to be successful, but what tends to be lacking is vision.
It brings to mind the expert in the law who cornered Jesus in Luke 10:35-37 asking, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In other words- give me the vision of how I can make sure I end up where I want to go? When Jesus turns the question around on him we see he had the resources at his disposal, the commands were part of the law he had become an expert in and devoted his life to mastering, ” ‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Simple enough! Make it happen! The vision has been casted!
There is only one small problem that arises as he added: “And who is my neighbor?”
The question is an attempt to postpone the practice of what he already knows to be true. So often we are sitting on the sidelines waiting until we have more understanding, finished another degree, or go to another seminar on ________ (fill in the blank), when we need to stop making the simple complex.
Jesus doesn’t tell us the two greatest commands are to be good looking and have a 180IQ, he doesn’t give us a creed to memorize, instead he gives us actions to live out! By taking on the 3 challenges we can put into motion Christ’s vision for our future.
1. Choosing Ministry over Management— (Luke 10:30-31) It is about showing the love of Christ. If you are anything like me, it is easy to take paper-work over people or sermons over souls. It was the same for the priest in the parable. He had “important” things to manage and missed the opportunity to have an impactful ministry on the man who had been robbed and was left to die in the ditch.
2. Being a Missionary over Being Ignorant-(Luke 10:32) We hear it all the time: “Ignorance is Bliss!” That can sound good for a while, but the truth is that what we don’t know can hurt us! Fixing a gas leak in your house may cost a lot, but not knowing might kill you! Imagine if Christ would have gone for “ignorance” over being a “missionary.” Christ’s willingness to be a missionary was painful, agonizing, sacrificial, but it was also changed the course of history! The bottom line is that not-knowing is the fastest way to not-doing. The Levite in Jesus’ parable, a supposed pillar of righteousness along with the priest, decided it would be easier not to know, even when the implications were life and death.
3. Developing a Mentality that Engages rather than Retreats! (Luke 10:33-35) Finally, as Jesus’ parable comes to an end it is the one in the eyes of the Jews, that had to be avoided, ignored, and retreated from–the dreaded Samaritans–that shows love through engaging rather than retreating. There are a lot of people that you may want to lock the door when you see them pull up at your office (lights off, army crawling under the window) but ministry by its very nature is messy! The miracle of ministry is not perfect people living perfect lives, but imperfect people having their lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. A spirit that engages rather than avoids. The people society rejects outright, the 17 year old high school dropout who is hooked on drugs, the prisoner sitting in jail who is contemplating suicide, the single mother who works as an exotic dancer to pay the bills are all opportunities, but only for the Good Samaritan. Imagine if the church engaged rather than retreated—whether it was by offering to babysit, visiting in prison, walking alongside as the treatment was carried out. The Christian life is about RELATIONSHIP with PURPOSE! The opportunities are all around you!
ARE YOU THE GOOD SAMARITAN?