So Sunday I preached the Luke 10:25-37 text which is commonly known as the Good Samaritan text. I remember learning about the Good Samaritan in Sunday School with the felt board and little characters at Wesley Chapel. When you’re a kid though you don’t get the inside info of the beginning piece of the lawyer asking Jesus “What do I need for eternal life?” or the back and forth of the conversation, and I totally don’t remember getting the big deal of this being a person from Samaria being the one to help. All I know as a child was that this person was hurt on the road and needed help and yet these two people that were supposed to be the godly ones kept walking past while this other guy actually stopped, helped and supported the hurt person. Pretty simple lesson right? You want to be the one that stops and helps and not the don’t make eye contact, keep hurrying along people.
We watch The Bachelorette every Monday night. Yes I know that is trashy television, some believe it’s scripted, they almost always break up, it’s contrived, etc., etc. But I still love the show and when you can fast forward the yucky parts including most of the rose ceremony – it ain’t half bad. Anyway, right after The Bachelorette they have this insane show that gets on my absolute nerves called True Beauty. The whole premise is that these contestants think they’re trying to win a chance to be “The Face of Vegas” and they do all these challenges and everything, but the real contest is all these hidden cameras shooting them and showing what they’re really made of. You see, they’re supposed to have beauty not just on the outside but on the inside as well. So it records if they’ll cheat to get ahead or if they’re trash talking behind someone’s back or if they, just like the Good Samaritan, help those in need right in front of them or they just keep walking. We didn’t end up watching the whole show because we wanted to catch up on some Leverage, but we caught the last 5 minutes where the poor girl was eliminated because she did cheat at the challenges, she did trash talk and she didn’t bother to help a mother trying to take care of her child and load luggage into her car, while the other contestant did.
So in thinking about the Good Samaritan I think about True Beauty. If our lives were recorded every day what would the verdict be for us? Would we have true beauty or would we cheat, trash talk, and keep walking when there’s an obvious need that we could do something about? Lord only knows. Literally. I mean you’ve been waiting in a line at a red light with the other cars and someone’s trying to raise money for the Humane Society or the local Fire Department or some other group. Do you readily give or do you do like I sometimes do and suddenly you get very busy changing the radio station, digging in your purse, or texting someone on your phone. Do not make eye contact.
What I like about this text is that it’s not just about the story. It starts off with that eternal life question and then it digs deep into the law – straight from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Hear O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind the as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” And the other law follows – to love your neighbor as yourself.
On Sunday I took a blue sharpie marker and wrote on my palm the word “LOVE” for the children’s sermon. There’s just something about those words in Deuteronomy about writing this as a sign on your hand or an emblem on your forehead. Some of us might think wait a sec I don’t want to toot my horn and put all this stuff out there like I’m somehow better than other folk. Or maybe it’s like many a pastor including me that has said I don’t want to put anything on my car – fish, bumper sticker, or clergy sticker – because I sure don’t drive like I should. If we wrote something on our hand or on our forehead reminding us to love God and love neighbor – would that help remind us? would that make us pause before we look away? would that make us see the world a little differently?
The new Senior Pastor at St. John’s said some wise words the other day. If the church isn’t going to really welcome people, we might as well take welcome off the door. That’s made me think a lot. We just took down our two welcome signs at Wesley so that we could paint and add some new ones. It definitely makes you think. If we’re not going to live it, we sure as heck better not say we do. That’s a challenge to each of us.
What would they show on your True Beauty? None of us get it right all the time, but I’d like to think we’re at least striving towards it with God’s grace. What situations challenge you to show love? patience? grace?