One day an expert on Moses’ laws came to test Jesus’ orthodoxy by asking him this question: “Teacher, what does a man need to do to live forever in heaven?”
Jesus replied, “What does Moses’ law say about it?”
“It says,” he replied, “that you must 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 you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself.” This lawyer was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. He correctly understood that the Law demanded total devotion to God and love for one’s neighbor.
Not so Different
Jesus would answer the lawyer’s question by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. There was deep hatred between Jews and Samaritans. The Jews saw themselves as pure descendants of Abraham, while the Samaritans were a mixed race produced when Jews from the Northern Kingdom intermarried with other peoples after Israel’s exile. To this lawyer, the person least likely to act correctly would be the Samaritan. In fact, he could not bear to say “Samaritan” in answer to Jesus’ question. The lawyer’s attitude betrayed his lack of the very thing that he had earlier said the Law commanded—love. In our churches today, it’s our natural inclination to feel uncomfortable around people who are different from us and to gravitate toward those who are similar to us. But when we allow our differences to separate us from our fellow believers, we are disregarding clear biblical teaching. Make a point to seek out and appreciate people who are not just like you and your friends. You may find that you have a lot in common with them. Lord teach and give us this Love, that loves the vilest of us.