Love God by Loving Your Neighbor
Femi Adeleye talked about the Parable of the Good Samaritan on the first night at Sonburst, challenging students to think about loving their neighbor.
One challenge we face, when talking about loving our neighbors, is to see how loving your neighbor is connected to loving God.
We often pit these two against each other. The spiritual versus the physical. Faith versus works. The Social Gospel versus ... well ... can there be an Anti-Social Gospel?
And, in the story of the Good Samaritan, this tension appears.
The priest passes by the man on the side of the road and so does the Levite. We don't know why they passed him by, but their spiritual vocations seem to indicate they had some religious purpose. Perhaps they had just come from the Temple and didn't want to risk rendering themselves unclean by touching a dead body. Perhaps they hurried off to prayer. Maybe we're reading too much into the text.
Either way, the Good Samaritan, by helping the man on the side of the road, fulfilled the "Love your neighbor as yourself" part of the "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" answer. But what about the "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" part of the answer?
In Matthew 25, Jesus says that whatever we do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of his, we have done for him.
So, loving your neighbor ... in some mysterious way ... is loving God.
How should this truth influence our conversations about loving God and neighbor?