Summary: Hometown. Comfortable confines. Known streets. Familiar sights. Our people. Our mission field? Our challenge? Our assignment?
Pt. 2 - Loopholes
Apathy. The word is defined as and literally means "without feeling". Little or no concern. From the Greek it perhaps carries the most revealing and what should be the most frightening definition for us today . . . Without passion! We have been confronted with the fact that is absolutely unacceptable to call ourselves Passion and not live up to the standards that this name demands. We must uproot and abolish apathy in our personal and corporate lives.
It is obvious that apathy is at epidemic levels and perhaps one of the greatest issues of our day. However, it is also obvious that apathy is not a new malady. This is an old and reoccurring sickness. Jesus came face to face with apathy on regular basis. There are two very specific and similar conversations that pulled the covers back on the deep seated apathy that existed in the hearts and lives of the church people of His day.
Text: Matthew 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
The religious leaders of the day. Those who were supposed to be the closest to God. Those who were supposed to be earnest in their desire to know God and to make Him known rather than asking out of sincere motives or for the purpose of acting on the given answer ask for the purpose of tricking Jesus. They ask Jesus to summarize the law in hopes that He would speak against the law and therefore be punished by death. Jesus outflanked them and in doing so in His answer He provides an equation for following our Father in obedience. He says that we must love God with everything that we have and that that type of love will manifest itself into action towards our fellow man whom He calls our neighbor. Then He applies a measurable standard to that action. We are to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.
Jesus doesn't even call us to the the highest standard that He could have. He could have said love your neighbor as much as God loves them. No He says love them as much as you love yourself. In that brief confrontation, Jesus attacks apathy. He let's these religious folks know that loving God isn't the only obligation of the believer. Instead our love for God is the launching pad into doing something tangible for our neighbor. How important is this to Jesus? Of all the tenants of the law. Of all the divine revelation He could have shared. With His knowledge of the Father's heart He declares that our love for our neighbor is second only to loving God himself. That is serious stuff! So serious that He goes so far as to say that all the other commandments and law hinge on these two things.
The second conversation brings the apathy into clearer view. These religious leaders had no desire to help those in need. They were awash in apathy.
Text: Luke 10:25-29
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘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.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Looking for a loophole he asked, "Who is my neighbor?"
Jesus once again confronted by religious of the day answers the same way. He points to the two things that lead us to right standing with God. Lo and behold the second is still the same. Love your neighbor. Then this religious leader in an attempt to justify himself as one version says or to find a loophole as the other version says asks this question . . . Who is my neighbor? This question spawns the story of the Good Samaritan.
Some simple thoughts...
1. And not or!
The folks of that day didn't like the answer Jesus gave as to how to meet the requirements of the law and how to find eternal life. The truth is neither do we. Jesus' response requires our worship to turn into walk! Jesus' response requires our weeping to turn into work! We don't mind the "Loving God" part because we ward off any evaluation because of the inherently personal aspect of worship. When that worship is supposed to flesh out into touching people it is no longer possible to remain private. Worship to a large degree can be dictated (at least we think) and determined by our own terms - I worship when I want, for as long as I want, however, when we begin to add the neighbor aspect of the equation it gets messy, it inserts inconvenience, it wrecks our nice neat lifestyle and calendar. So, let me do my one hour of dressed up, boxed up, duty of worship but don't place any demand on the rest of my time or resources.