Friday, August 26, 2011

The Secret of the Good Samaritan: Reflections on the Fellowship Conference

There is a secret, several secrets actually in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Luther discovered the first, namely that Jesus is the Good Samaritan. Jesus is the despised, the rejected "Samaritan" who rescues the man beaten and left for dead by the side of the road. In order to justify himself the lawyer had asked, "who is my neighbor?" but Jesus in great mercy and pity for the lawyer, turns this question on its head, answering in effect, "I am your neighbor!" "I, who come to you and see you and bind your wounds and heal you, 'I am your neighbor.'"
Knowing of Luther's interpretation then, I was disconcerted by the question posed in the small groups of the Fellowship Conference Thursday evening, "Who is my neighbor?" This is the hostile question of the lawyer! But then I realized that that is exactly who we are. You see there is a second secret in the parable: the lawyer is the man who fell among the thieves. The man in the parable is beaten by thieves and left "half-dead" (or should we say, "deathly ill?"). Jesus understands our hearts (Psalm 139) and when he sees the lawyer and hears his self-justifying question, "who is my neighbor?" Jesus knows that the lawyer has been attacked and overmastered by his sins. The lawyer stands before Jesus seemingly as right as rain, but in truth the lawyer is as good as dead utterly undone by sin and the devil, twin thieves who take all that he has. This is us. The leaders of the Fellowship Conference have correctly surmised that we are "deathly ill;" their solution is understandable and pitiable but let's face face facts, in large measure their solution is retreat, to cross by on the other side of the road. But is this Jesus' solution? On the contrary instead of retreating he comes to where we are, he crosses the road, he comes near and sees us and binds up our wounds. The kids use to ask, "What Would Jesus Do?" I think we know. We despair of solutions, but it is not our job to find solutions, our job is simply to follow Jesus and go where he goes. He is not leaving our denomination, he isn't crossing by the other side of the road, and neither am I. More than anything else I too want peace and rest, I love and respect all the leaders of the Fellowship but in the end I know that only Jesus is peace and all other sabbaths and man-made havens, false.

Stay and Tell

Elijah the prophet, he ran away
He just didn't have the heart,
Anymore to stay.

"I'm all alone!" to God he cried,
And in the desert, he would have died
But in his mercy God woke him up
And gave him a meal from heaven on which to sup

And brought him to the mountain,
The truth to show: seven thousand in Israel
Never to Baal did go.

Not by power and not by might
The still, small voice wins the fight.

Be encouraged in that fight today,
For God goes ahead and gives us words to say.

Dear prophet Elijah shows us well
Not to run and hide but stay and tell

The grace of God in the face of wrong
Of Man and of Woman, Jesus, his Bride, Love's True Song--

To sing... for to him, Our Savior, we will always belong.

Not by power and not by might
The Holy Spirit will give us sight
A vision to tell to those in need
For Jesus Messiah, he is Lord indeed!