We are all broken persons in need of compassion, mercy

Published 8:32 am Friday, April 12, 2019

What must we do to inherit eternal life? I am sure that a lot of people have lots of different answers for this question. Some may take you to Romans 10:9-10. Others may take you to Acts 2:38. And I’m guessing there are even more places throughout the Bible that one could be referenced to. Most of us hear this question and immediately begin going down our checklist. I almost feel like we make it a survey for new believers to fill out. As long as this person says “yes” to all of our questions, then we assume that our job is done. However, my concern is that with this approach, we have completely missed how Jesus responded to the very same question we often get on Sunday mornings at church.
Luke 10:25-35 reads, “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 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. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 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. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”
Jesus didn’t have this man repeat a prayer after Him or have him respond to a spiritual survey. Rather, He told him a story about how two religious leaders, those in the community who supposedly knew God best, walked right past a man who was in desperate need of help. Jesus told the lawyer a story about how it was the rejected and hated Samaritan that stopped and made sure this hurting man on the side of the road would get the help he needed.
Perhaps, Jesus is wanting the lawyer to see that maybe eternal life doesn’t belong to those we often think it does. The two religious leaders certainly knew the two greatest commands of the Torah yet were unwilling to live them. Furthermore, it was the Samaritan whom everyone had written off and discarded from their lives who was able to see that transformative salvation is found in compassion, not in rules.
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy, writes in his book, “I do what I do because I’m broken, too…I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.”
We are all jacked-up, messed-up, broken human beings. Some of us are better at hiding it than others, but I have yet to meet a perfect person. Because we are all broken, we are all connected, and we are all in need of compassion and mercy. Don’t be like the priest who put too much stock in following the rules. Follow Jesus who took painful stripes so we could be healed.
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church and his associate, Hunter Greene.)

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