In these past weeks and months I have found myself impacted by topics ranging from health issues to cultural differences, social justice to personal freedom. Our national environment is charged with an enormous amount of issues to process through and formulate understanding, both personally & corporately. For myself this has been a time to do a lot of listening, thinking, praying & reading. I’m taking the time to peel back the layers that define me–what I believe and how I view the world.
Through that process I’d say I’m feeling anxious to see some solutions–the answers to it all. I’d guess if I were honest, I would feel so much better if I just could have the answer to each problem summed up quickly, neatly tied up in a pretty box and bow. Having solutions to all our issues and problems surely would bring us individually, and by extension nationally, to the place we need to be. But would it?
I am reminded of when my husband and I disagree and argue. We love each other, we hate to fight but our human nature selfishly acts out of our soulish need to be right. We are at odds which feels bad, so we want an easy quick resolution which isn’t always so clear-cut. Ultimately armed with Truth, we choose a purpose which is to want the best for the other, which will cause our marriage to thrive. We apologize and forgive and hopefully grow. It takes choice, effort and a lot of mercy to admit my way isn’t the best way–that as an individual I have weaknesses that need transformation. Finally, we will intentionally decide to see the best in each other even when it’s painful.
Of course, solutions are good, very good in fact. But I know too well if I only concentrate on the solution, without understanding and learning from the process of getting there, I will not have changed along the journey. I will have gained a good feeling stepping out of a problem but in reality, it’s a band-aid on a much deeper issue. And that issue is my sinful heart. The process I need is called sanctification.
The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke’s gospel is a timely example of this very application. As both doctor and disciple, Luke could understand the inner healing people need and that we now see so perfectly illustrated in this parable. There is an immediate healing touch for the body but also a deeper healing: removing the fleshly need for self-preservation while ignoring the heart of those around us and ultimately, loving God fully and putting Him first before ALL. When we do this, then we can truly love others.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37 ESV
By admitting we are spiritually lost, we put ourselves in a position to be filled and transformed by a God who can save us from the eternal separation sin bought for us. We can be honest with God, admitting we are spiritually in a ditch and in need of deliverance. When we humble ourselves without posturing and testing God, we can freely receive Christ as Savior and King. His sacrifice won us the freedom the law could not deliver.
Our spirits are now alive to GOD, opening the door to joyfully partner with Him. As Christ admonished the lawyer, we too should ‘go and do likewise’ to see His will be done here on earth. The spiritual realm over which God reigns as King, if we allow it, can frame our earthly existence into a vehicle of love and mercy for ourselves and others. I’m hopeful and excited to see the solutions by which we will triumph together!