Thursday, March 08, 2012

Who is My Neighbor?
Who is My Enemy?
Lk.10:27-29 - And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
Matt.5:43-48 - Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
he spiritual path that follows Jesus is completely at odds with anything else in this world. Even the religions that teach self flagellation and denial of the needs of the flesh are camouflaged expressions of self righteousness.
Col.2:22-23 - Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
t is one thing to deny the flesh, but without the Lordship of Jesus Christ it is meaningless and elevates the capacity of man’s own will. It is, as the Scriptures identify, worship of man’s will and not the Lord Jesus. But the path that follows Jesus is completely unique, and if correctly manifested, it is remarkable among all the other paths. The true disciple will stand out as dissimilar and distinct in a fallen environment of all kinds of religious evils.
This path cannot be predictable by the flesh. And this path many times, if not most times, proceeds into territories that seem unconventional and at odds with reason. Even among professing believers this path is rejected because it seems so out of touch with the worldly realities that so often control our thinking. It is exactly why believers by the millions lead such predictable lives that blend in so nicely with the culture in which they live.
But in answering the question “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan. In essence, our neighbor is anyone in need. Anyone. But of course the flesh desires to minister to someone who deserves it according to our own assessment. The flesh never considers the fact that we ourselves did not deserve anything from God except eternal judgment, but when self righteousness is on the throne those things are incidentals which have no bearing on our thoughts, attitudes, and lives. Usually we believe our neighbor is someone who thinks and acts like us, or at least is not at odds with what we believe. God forbid we show any kindness to someone who repulses us - like a filthy, bleeding Samaritan who probably got what he deserved. Or for that matter the gay transvestite dressed as a nun and marching in a gay pride parade in San Fransisco.
But Jesus builds upon the concept of our neighbor by commanding us to show love, yes I said LOVE, to our enemies. Now the flesh runs for cover and demands to know just who is our enemy? Like the question about who is our neighbor, the flesh hopes that this enemy-love is an ethereal concept that is a little sermon filler but not a practical expression of Christ that violently encroaches well into entrenched life patterns within evangelicalism. It may be good for some discussion about situational ethics or the tension between the gospel message and humanitarian deeds, but after the shallow give and take all things remain the same since the fathers slept.
But just who is my enemy? You see, if I give some serious thought about that, and if I identify such persons, then I become responsible for the active part of the command. So let’s put it all on the table with all the inward distress of watching an autopsy. Of course if you wish to avoid that kind of spiritual introspection, then you may remain in the luxury of your own cozy hammock. You have arrived and only need a few minor adjustments on your path to discipleship. Here is where you get off. So long.
Who is my enemy? The Muslims? The liberals? The felon? The socialist? The homosexual? The atheist? The humanist? I mean let us be specific here. Who is your enemy? Without that identification we all can disobey the command to love our enemies without being exposed. But this teaching of our Lord is dramatically different than anything the disciples had ever heard. It was radical indeed. But somewhere along the many centuries after the Lord Jesus ascended the church has rejected this crucial teaching that separates us from the darkness.
God reached down with Incarnate love to His enemies and gave His only begotten Son for the ungodly. And we so glibly embrace that love as recipients, but openly refuse to exhibit that same love toward those who we deem “ungodly”. Do we not recall the servant who gladly received forgiveness from the king but quickly refused to show forgiveness to his fellow servant? What in God’s dear name does that parable mean if it doesn’t show us our hypocrisy?
The church has strayed from the path of Christ which should be lined with all kinds of expressions of selfless and unconditional love. The pitiful and disgusting elements of fallen morality and political wrangling have crept into our hearts and minds until the true gospel has become nothing more than a doctrinal statement. We are willing to die for a fallen nationalistic system, but we are not even willing to love needy sinners, to say nothing of giving our very lives for their salvation. Paul wished himself accursed for his countrymen, and Moses asked God to kill him rather than kill those who hated Moses.
But the flesh needs an enemy. In fact, the flesh demands enemies so that it can magnify the sins of others and excuse its own transgressions. We consider ourselves friends of God when we make His enemies our enemies. But God calls us to love His enemies in this age of gospel love. God’s love is nothing like earthly love. And unless we seek God’s heart concerning His love for this world, we not only will not exhibit that love, we will never understand our own path of faith. This kind of love begins in the heart and works its way into the mind which works its way into our hands, feet, and lips. And when that miraculous metamorphosis takes place, we are then true imitators of the Lord Jesus.
But until that path is explored once again, the church will walk a carnal path of morals, religions, unholy alliances, and a fleshly construct that is actually too embarrassed to even suggest it mirrors the Christ of the gospels. And instead of being living sacrifices for Christ and the lost, the church will have a cornucopia of delectable enemies from which to choose to occupy its time.
The gospel will have to wait for a more convenient season when there aren't as many enemies.

2 comments: said...

Hey Rick,

I found and appreciated your post. You make a lot of good, thought-provoking points.

Also read your profile. Sounds like we may have a lot in common.

I started a blog yesterday and wrote a new post today. That post links to this one.

If you're willing, check out the post. Let me know what you think, bro.

I'll understand if you delete the link in this comment or don't allow the comment, but I would like to begin networking with like-minded people, if possible.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Just made the last comment and didn't add an identity.

My name is Gene and I'm in Knoxville, TN.