We seek to justify ourselves

How simple can it get? In Luke 10 a lawyer asks Jesus a question. Okay, check that. When the lawyer is the one asking the question, it’s never simple.

But here is the issue: a simple question was asked. A simple answer was given.

“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What does the Law say? How do you read it?”

“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.”

Can it end there? Should it be left there? Of course it CAN be left there… but we just can’t do it. The lawyer couldn’t. We couldn’t. And here is what trips us up every time:

“…desiring to justify himself…”

We can’t stop with the simple instructions. There is something this lawyer sees in his own life that needs … um … “tweeking”… so he seeks to “clarify” this thing about “loving neighbors.”

This is our dilemma today. We can “love” people… we think. Then, a particular issue comes up and the qualifiers come out. We look at the definition of “love”, we look at the definition of “neighbor”, etc.

I’m willing to “love my neighbor” if my neighbor is in agreement with me. Or looks like me. Or believes like me. Or talks like me. Or votes the same way I do. Or goes to the same church I do (or at least one my church recognizes as being “in fellowship”).

We can’t leave the simple answer (as hard as it is) alone. Each one of us, no matter our theological or political stripe, choke and some point and seek to justify our “love.”

The Church needs to lead the way. Right now, in America, it fails badly. And that is leaving a void… and that void is not being filled.

Love the Lord your God. Love your neighbor.

Full stop.


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