Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Good Heretic pt 3

Luke 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.
28 And he said to him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?
Christ answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Many modern Christians forget that the Samaritans were despised exactly because their faith was based on an 'altered' Bible. They were flawed doctrinally- big time. But the Samaritan showed love to the injured man and the Jews in the story did not. The 'enlightened ones' must have excused their willful blindness to their fellow Jew. Perhaps one was 'too busy' - another 'had to stay sanctified for the temple services' - a third may have believed that 'he'd brought it on himself' - who knows?

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came were he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said to him, Take care of him: and whatever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor to him that fell among the robbers?
37 And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus to him, Go, and do thou likewise.

The Good Samaritan was a heretic, but he was beloved in the eyes of God for the love and respect he showed to his traditional enemy. The Pharisees that Christ told off so many times were actually the closest to Biblical truth as we know it now, and as it was revealed in the Old Testament, but they were often hypocritical, judgmental, and disrespectful of other views.

Basically they weren't loving God or their neighbor despite their greater enlightenment about the scriptures. They weren't loving in what they taught. They didn't believe they needed to be listening to anybody because their doctrine was so 'correct' - unfortunately this belief in their doctrinal & religious superiority eventually included (in their view) God's Son and John -that hairy, religious fringe dude baptizing people by the river Jordan. They had forgotten what a nut Elijah had looked like to HIS contemporaries, until that fire came down from heaven onto the altar. They were blinded by pride.

We foolish sinners are called to live more like the Good Samaritan, the loving heretic, with humility, concern, and respect for all we meet - online as well as face to face. Its good to know God can overlook our doctrinal failings as long as we are looking for HIM and loving each other.

Paul/Saul who suffered so much for Christ spoke often of loving each other as our primary way of loving God properly. It was his strongest witness, because it had been his weakest point. When he was Saul he was zealous for God. He tried to be perfect before Jehovah with his exact observances of the law as given to Moses by God. Over time it has been largely forgotten that such a legalistic walk was once regarded as proof of a commendable dedication to the Almighty. Saul also believed he was loving God in persecuting the first Christians. It was this lack of love for other believers in God that was so seriously reproved by Christ himself on the road to Damascus.

People so often excuse their own poor behavior to other believers (and nonbelievers) on the basis of serious doctrinal differences, but Jesus had cut off every excuse of that before the church was even established. Kinda burns me up to see a Messianic show less respect for believers in God (Jewish & Christian) than an avowed agnostic, but it happens. Pride can pervert even the most faithful of Christian walks into unloving, Pharisaical nonsense.

Me, I figure it is be best to err on the side of love, if that IS an error - and grant that every person has a right to be respected, valued,  while in their current beliefs. If you believe those beliefs to be in error, you can say so (if they are open to hearing it) But in the end, you recognize it is their choice. You respect the person. You respect their faith, and its trappings, even when you don't agree with them at all.


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