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Agape

I volunteer weekly at my local pregnancy center. It is one of the greatest joys and privileges I have to be able to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of expecting and new mamas around me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

A few days ago, a friend of mine asked me, “Are you ever surprised by who comes in there? Like, are most of them beautiful girls or do you look at some and think, ‘How do you even have a boyfriend?'”

I was kind of taken aback by the question. She didn’t intend to be mean; she meant it honestly, even if it was thoughtless. I pondered for a minute in confusion before answering.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been surprised by who comes in. Maybe saddened and grieved by their stories but not surprised. When I go there, I have pre-determined to love whoever walks through that door and so every single girl that comes in is beautiful to me before I even know them. I already love them.”

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation since then and I still believe what I said is true. I did a study awhile back in 1, 2, and 3 John and the most valuable thing I got out of it was a definition of agape love:

Agape: an intelligent, purposeful attitude of esteem and devotion, a selfless, purposeful, outgoing attitude that desires to do good to the one loved.

Pretty convicting, huh? Even more so if you look up how many times THAT is the word that is translated to love in our Bibles. Agape love is one that denies myself and seeks the best for another person. It’s not based on emotions but it’s an act of the will, an intentional choice to love someone else sacrificially. Boy, that’s hard!

And yet isn’t that how Christ loves us? He doesn’t love us based on our beauty, our lovableness, good works, or desirableness. We are none of those things. It’s purely a pre-determination to SET his love on us. He CHOOSES to love us. And we are called to do the same, whether we feel like it or not.

What was more convicting for me was that I realized I do this easily at the pregnancy center but I drift off in other areas of my life. Have I made that pre-determination to agape every. single. person. I know? That’s harder and yet that’s what I am commanded to do.

1 John 3:16-18
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

(Really, you should just read all of 1 John 🙂 )

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2020 in encouragment

 

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The Good Samaritan

Would you like to talk about something other than the news? If so, pull up a chair; you are in the right place. Because today I’d like to put a very familiar story in a totally new light.

I’m sure you’ve read the story of the Good Samaritan before but I’d like to ask you to read it again. Trust me. Take the time and read it even if it’s the millionth time in your life:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37 ESV

Today I’d like to look at this story through the eyes of Jesus’ listeners, the Jews. Most of the time, we read the Bible from OUR perspective, but today, I want to see it from THEIRS.*

First of all, it says that the man who was robbed was traveling out of Jerusalem and was headed towards Jericho. This road was rocky and was known to be full of robbers. So this wouldn’t have been a surprising start to a story. It’s like saying someone was robbed in the slums of a city. No one is shocked when you say that. The Jews probably also assumed that the man was a Jew and coming out of Jerusalem from a Feast Day. They see him as one of their own people.

Now when the priest and Levite come on the scene, you and I are tempted to boo at the “bad guys,” but the Jews would have seen them as heroes. The best, most holy people they knew. For them, this is like saying that your beloved religious mentor was walking down the road. Jesus says that they saw the man and passed by on the other side of the road. Now, if you know your OT well, you will know that neither priests or Levites can touch dead bodies. Their professions and lives would have been ruined as they could no longer serve in the temple. So while you and I see two heartless and cruel people, the Jews saw a valid reason to leave a man that looked dead.

Lastly, a Samaritan comes by. This is the part where we cheer for the “good guy,” but the Jews were probably boiling over with anger! How dare Jesus bring a Samaritan into this story as the hero?! The racism and hatred between the Jews and Samaritans was worse than most of us have experienced. At the end of the story, the lawyer couldn’t even bring himself to say that it was the Samaritan who was the neighbor, just “the one that showed mercy.” And yet this is the one who took the man, cared for him, and paid for his injuries. This is the one who proved to be a true neighbor.

Now if you’re like me, you’ve probably heard that story (complete with flannelgraphs) your whole life. The take-away has always been to be a good neighbor to whoever you meet, that everyone is your neighbor. Can I suggest to you a deeper meaning today?

Look again at the story. Look at the Samaritan specifically. Let me point out some significant details about him:

The Samaritan was hated and despised by the Jews.
He had compassion on the man.
He also appears to have wealth. He is the only character in the story riding on an animal- everyone else has been on foot.
He came prepared to help- he had oil and wine with him and bound up the man’s wounds.
He paid for the man’s injuries.
He left a deposit.
He promised to return.

Beloved friends, WHO is the Good Samaritan? WHO does this sound like? All our lives we read this story and think it’s about us, but it’s truly a story about CHRIST!

JESUS IS THE GOOD SAMARITAN!

Jesus is the one who compassionately takes dead people and pays for them. He has riches beyond measure but he gave them up for us. He left us the deposit of the Holy Spirit and promised to return. He was hated by the Jews to the point that if that man in the ditch had woken up and seen who was rescuing him, he would have fought back against him with all his might! (And so do we.) JESUS is the point of this story. Because of THE Good Samaritan, we are called to be neighbors to everyone. And it’s only through him that we can.

I truly believe that all of Scripture points to Christ and yet we are sometimes so blind to see it! We want to believe that the Bible is about us, but let’s face it, it’s not. It’s all about him.

*If you think I came to this sudden realization on my own, you are so far off. My daily devotions are currently in 1 John (how’d we get here, huh?) in a study by Jen Wilken called Abide. I would highly recommend it! Pretty much this whole post is from her. 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2020 in Bible

 

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