I was recently studying through the parable of the Good Samaritan. And this is a classic story. Even beyond the bounds of the pulpit, this story has been told for centuries. And for good reason: it is the classic example of what it looks like to truly live out the purest form of a faith in Jesus.
But as I was studying this fictional character in the parable of Jesus – the Good Samaritan – something very interesting began to rise to the surface of my heart. It actually kind of surprised me with its simplicity, but also with its depth.
Loving everybody doesn’t start with trying really hard to love everybody. Because at some point, there will ALWAYS be somebody that is beyond the strength of your incredibly disciplined moral resolution. Consider this character described by Jesus’ parable. The Good Samaritan is how Jesus describes what someone who “loves his neighbor as himself” would actually look like. If this is part of what it takes to inherit eternal life, here is the example to follow. Even though this is a fictional character, a product of Jesus’ masterful storytelling, we can assume that this is the kind of life that Jesus says will be in heaven. It’s as if Jesus were saying, “This is what it means to live out everything I just said and, thus, experience what I’ve promised. This is what it looks like.”
In other words, we can retroactively look back and know that this Samaritan has the righteousness of God applied to his record and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence inside of him. And so when he has compassion, the original language uses a word that literally translates to “to be moved in the inward parts, moved with compassion, take pity on, have pity on, or have one’s heart go out to someone.” There is something on the inside of him that is so compulsive that it moves him into action. In other words, because of this absolutely secure and intimate relationship with God – to the point that God and his love are literally inside of him – he moves so naturally in love toward everyone. How do I know this? Because THE LAST PERSON ON THE PLANET that a Samaritan would assist would be a Jew. They hated each other.
And so when this Samaritan overflows in love to a repulsive Jew – even avoided by his own people – we can be sure that it was God’s colorblind, boundary-crossing, hate-forgiving, counter-cultural, unnatural love that was coursing through his veins, moving him in compassionate love to everyone he encountered.
That is what Jesus says it means to “love your neighbor as yourself”…
TRANSLATION: There isn’t a boundary! There isn’t a nationality that’s excluded! There isn’t a sin that’s too much! There isn’t a ask that’s too big! There isn’t an offense that’s too painful! There isn’t a cut that’s too deep! There isn’t a chasm that’s too wide! And there isn’t a heart that is too cold.
If this is the kind of love that God has for you, and if he has taken up residence on the inside of you, Jesus says that it can’t help but overflow and touch those you come in contact with! God’s love doesn’t stay inside you! And the more that you are with Jesus – just sitting at his feet, receiving a right relationship with him, going where he goes, doing what he does – the more the people around you will see it, will feel it, and the more it will transform the world!
Can you just imagine for a moment if followers of Jesus around the country (and even around the globe) just became so consumed with Jesus – and focused less on holding people up to man made traditions and superficial standards – how much more this world would truly experience the love of God, if even through a second-hand experience?
I promise you, that is how the world was meant to be changed. And that is how followers of Jesus were meant to be known. And that is how the love of God was meant to be spread – in deed and in truth, in word and in action, in conversation and in demonstration. If God’s love is in you, and you are in God, it will come out. You can’t separate the two.
And maybe you’re reading this, and you look at the fruit of your life (the behaviors, the habits, the words, the relationships) and you are having a really hard time seeing the love of God on display in your life; you’re not really seeing the world around you impacted with Jesus; you’re not really observing the people you interact with every day transformed by God’s love that is flowing from your life.
Could it be that you’re not right with people because you haven’t been made right with God? Or could it be, even, that you’re not right with other people because you’ve been out of touch with Jesus, who alone makes you right with God?
And when you are noticing that you are not overflowing with God’s love to other people, what do you need to do? “You need to get right with God…” Yes…ish… But that’s already been done! And so what you need is to get back to Jesus. Stay in his presence. Be consumed with his words. Receive – once again – his unconditional love.
And when you are noticing – once again – that you are not overflowing with God’s love to other people, what do you need to do? Run back to Jesus again. Sometimes every day. Sometimes every hour. Sometimes, multiple times an hour. Sometimes, for hours at a time!
It’s Jesus who makes you right with God! And in turn – out of the overflow with that – it’s Jesus who makes you right with everyone!
So don’t waste anymore of your life trying so hard to love and please everyone. Run to Jesus. He will overwhelm you and then he will overflow out of you. And in Jesus, you will truly transform this world.