God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to form a new nation – a nation based on laws, right? He gave them the Ten Commandments and then all 613 of the other laws.
Obedience to the law was intended to bring about change on a global scale (bless the world). If every person actually chose not worship idols, didn’t commit murder or adultery, didn’t lie or covet their neighbor’s property, then there would a society of people who lived with respect for one another.
They had some good rule followers, but they missed the point. God’s requirement of them was “to act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) They lost their protected status and found themselves in Exile, where they heard the words of the Prophets lamenting their sins of idol worship and oppression of others.
Upon their return to the land, a new group had risen to power, the Pharisees, who made it their job to enforce the Law. If the Law was maintained, they would stay in God’s favor, which was why they were not happy when a young Galilean showed up and seemed to be pushing the boundaries.
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.”
It is our duty and responsibility as Christ followers to love.
We do not pursue order which comes through enforcement, rather we seek peace which grows from seeking justice, granting mercy and walking with humility.
The hope and the future that God is calling us to requires that we love our neighbors as ourselves.
Who is your neighbor?