Saturday, August 18, 2012

jerks and something supernatural

I haven't even asked him his name, but I already know the cliff-notes of his life; drugs, alcohol, crime. He's downwind and all I catch is a whiff of flame-broiled deliciousness of the Burger King nearby, but I'd bet money he smells like pee and booze. He's not even within arms reach of me, but I suddenly take notice to the weight of the wallet in my back pocket. I even give myself the 'ol patty-pat just to make sure it's securely in place, not peeking out for grabs. I fiddle with my phone a little. This is a great technique, offering an easy-out to uncomfortable eye contact while sending a powerful message; I can use this to dial 911 if necessary.

He's made one bad choice after another. He can't hold down a job. At one point in life, he had everything he could ever need but squandered it all away. He's gonna ask for money to buy food with, but really he's saving up for a six-pack...

Maybe I'm the world's biggest jerk here, I don't know. But I'd reckon I'm not the only one who's jumped on a one-way train to Judgment Town when a beggar walks my way.

This is me. That's who I am. My flesh. My nature.
That guy who says hi and hands over a couple bucks?
That's Jesus doing that. Jesus. Not me.

You see, if you happen to see me doing something helpful or nice for somebody, please understand, you are not witnessing an act of kindness. You are witnessing something supernatural. A miracle. A progressive transformation, as I decrease and the Holy Spirit increases within me.

In the Book of Luke, Jesus gives us a clear description of what it means to 'love our neighbor' through a parable about a man who was robbed, stripped naked, and brutally beaten. His attackers left him to die in the ditch along the road. A priest came shortly afterward. Surely the priest would help! But no. The priest carefully crossed to the other side of the road in order to avoid him.

I'm sure, in that moment, the priest became aware of the weight of his coin purse, and gave it a good tug just to make sure it wasn't going anywhere. He probably even held his breath until he passed by a little. After all, a mangled mess along the roadside couldn't smell all that fresh...

Soon, another passerby came down the road, and just like the priest, he avoided the dying man like a leper.

Finally, the Samaritan showed up. He skipped the cliff-notes and conclusions and jumped straight into action. He didn't tuck away his coin purse for safe keeping, he opened it up to pay an innkeeper to care for the man.

I am simply called to help. I don't need to know their story. I don't need to know the how's and why's of their circumstances. I don't even need to know if they're just gonna land right back in the ditch I helped them out of. I don't need to know those things.

And neither do you. Simply help.

If we needed to know those things, Jesus would have included it in His parable, but He didn't. But don't take my word for it. Read it yourself HERE.

This way of loving our neighbor, it's not me. It's not within me to do. But it is in the nature of our Creator. And our Creator is within His followers. In fact, we are built to become a dwelling in which God lives (Ephesians 2:22).

If you've asked Him to dwell in you, prepare yourself for awkward eye contact and conversations with smelly people. Prepare yourself to hand over a couple bucks. Be ready to help someone up without knowing if they'll continue to stand on their own or if they'll just fall right back down.

Prepare yourself. Not to do these things. But to watch God do them through you. And thank Him. Thank Him. Thank Him, for using a bunch of jerks like us to demonstrate His Love...

Because that's what we are. Jerks. 

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