Friday, 5 February, 2021
Title: Go, Do Likewise
by: Ps Cheng Cheung

Luke 10: 33 “But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”

We are all familiar with the parable of The Good Samaritan but many are unaware of the context. Two key verses are verses 25 and 29.

25 ” And behold, a certain legal expert stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do so that I will inherit eternal life?”

29 ” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

This person is “an expert in the law”, that is, Jewish religious law. He was a theologian, and represents the religious establishment. Was this the question of a sincere seeker? His intention is doubtful, but the question is crucial. ”Teacher, what must I do so that I will inherit eternal life?”

This man believes eternal life is obtained by doing a number of good deeds and compliance with the law. Salvation comes by human works. When the Lord turns the man’s question back to him, he answers by quoting from the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 6: 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Leviticus 19: 18 ..you shall love your neighbour as yourself..

Although Jesus commends his answer, he is not satisfied. Wanting to justify himself, or possibly, to see if Jesus would give him a list of rules or Do’s and Don’ts which he could measure himself against, he probes further “And who is my neighbour?”

Undoubtedly he felt the weight of the commands Love God, love your neighbour as yourself ; these were foreign to his nature as an expert in the law. Written codes and a simple set of rules like “Do not steal, do not covet, honour the Sabbath” were easier to navigate than loving one’s neighbour. If he had been honest and humble, he would have said ”I have a problem. I don’t know how to love God. Or love my neighbour as myself. I tried, but I failed. Help me”

Instead, he again asks defensively, ”(So) who is my neighbour, (who)??” at which point the Lord tells the parable of the good Samaritan.

We know the story well. Two men, a priest and then a Levite, saw the unfortunate victim (most certainly a Jew) of a mugging, and passed by on the other side. Why didn’t they do anything, in spite of the fact both could surmise he was near death?
For the priest, contamination would have been a hassle if the man died. The cleansing ritual would be costly and time consuming. Involvement would require a return to Jerusalem from whence he had come and the interruption of his plans. Inconvenience. Unforeseen complications. Besides, he’s a priest, not a paramedic.
For the Levite, a religious figure, his response is similar. Perhaps he feared for his own safety, that it was actually a trap or he foresaw entanglement.

Do not think these are “bad men”. They were ordinary men, like you and I. Like them, we all have our responsibilities, our duties and such situations intrude on our privacy, right? We all have our agenda pretty well mapped out day-in, day-out. We cannot afford interruptions. I͟t͟’s͟ s͟o͟ e͟a͟s͟y͟ t͟o͟ r͟a͟t͟i͟o͟n͟a͟l͟i͟z͟e͟ a͟w͟a͟y͟ e͟v͟e͟r͟y͟t͟h͟i͟n͟g͟.

We do not need to study the rest of the parable. The thing which set the Samaritan apart from the priest and Levite was his compassion. He saw the same thing the other two saw. But he felt compassion and pity for the man which the other two did not. Lack of compassion is a symptom of a deeper lack. Our (un)willingness to become involved in the needs of others is evidence of the reality of the love (or lack of love) of God in our lives. This was the wall the expert in the law could not bring himself to scale and climb over. He was stuck as long as he would not admit he needed help. H͟o͟w͟ a͟b͟o͟u͟t͟ y͟o͟u͟?

Remember the PBC sermon on social action we heard on 31 January? The main thing which struck me then was the call to o͟p͟e͟n͟ o͟u͟r͟ e͟y͟e͟s͟ to see what’s around us which we can help fix. We need to ask God to move us and convict us of the area where we naturally have a leaning towards, either corporately or individually. This is important, because in a world where compassion fatigue has reached epidemic proportions, we must recognise, in the interest of long-term sustainability, we cannot be everything to everyone or every cause. We can, though, be something to some one or some cause. So, we may then be the neighbour to the one who is beset by misfortune.

A Prayer

Gracious God, fill me with God’s love again. Help me turn from my selfish ways. I have become comfortable in my routine and I justify staying in that routine with flimsy reasons.

Show me who is my neighbour in dire need at this time, that I might be a genuine friend to him. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

每日灵粮
星期五,2020年2月5日
标题:你去照样行吧
作者:张祯祥传道
翻译:巫惠如姐妹

路10:33 唯有一个撒马利亚人行路来到那里,看见他,就动了慈心

我们都熟悉“好撒马利亚人”的比喻,但很多人不知道它的背景。25和29是两个关键经节。

25 有一个律法师起来试探耶稣,说:“夫子,我该做什么才可以承受永生?”
29 那人要显明自己有理,就对耶稣说:“谁是我的邻舍呢?”

这人是犹太教律法背景的”律法师”。他是神学家,代表宗教机构。这是真诚探索者的问题吗?他的意图是值得怀疑的,但他所发出的问题至关重要。“夫子,我该做什么才可以承受永生?”

他认为,人通过各样善行和遵守法律就会获得永恒的生命。救恩是人的功劳。当主把他的问题转回他,他引用旧约。

申命记6:5你要尽心、尽性、尽力爱耶和华你的神。
利未记19:18 …却要爱人如己…

尽管耶稣赞扬他的回答,但他并不满意。他进一步探索“谁是我的邻居?” ,可能是为了证明自己,又或者是为了看耶稣是否会给他一份行为准则的清单,好让他根据这些规则来衡量自己。

毫无疑问,他感受到了“爱神”、“爱邻舍”的重担;这些都与他作为律法师的性格不符。书面密码和一套简单的规则,比如“不要偷窃,不要贪图,守安息日”,比爱邻居更容易实行。如果他诚实谦卑,他会说,“我有问题。我不知道怎么爱上帝,也不会爱人如己。我试过,但失败了。求主助我!”

相反,他再次以防御的口吻问: “(那么)谁是我的邻舍?(是谁)??” 这时,主耶稣正好在讲好撒马利亚人的比喻。

我们很了解这个故事。两名男子,一名祭司,然后一名利未人,看到一个抢劫案中不幸的受害者(当然是犹太人),从另一边经过。尽管他们都能推测他快死了,为什么他们却无动于衷?

对祭司来说,如果那人死了,污染将是件麻烦事。死后的清洗仪式耗费时间体力。若是伸出援手,他得返回耶路撒冷,而这会打断他原本的计划。这突如其来的麻烦事怎么看都是非常不方便。而且,他是祭司,不是急救员。 对利未人来说,他的反应也类似。也许他担心自己的安全,担心这实际上是个陷阱,或者他仿佛预见未来不必要的纠缠。

别以为他们是“坏人”。他们是普通人,像你我。像他们一样,我们都有责任,我们的职责,这样的情况妨碍了我们的隐私,对吧?我们的日程都安排得相当好。我们承受不起干扰。把一切理性化,真的是太容易了。

我们不需要研究比喻的其余部分。让撒马利亚人有别于祭司和利未人的是他怜悯的心。他所看到的也是另外两人看到的。但不一样的是,他对那人感到同情和怜悯。缺乏同情心其实是更深层次缺乏的症状。我们要不要帮助他人的意愿足以证明我们生活中是否有上帝的爱。这堵墙是律法师无法越过的。只要他不承认自己需要帮助,他就会被困住。你呢?

还记得1月31日我们在班底浸信会听到关于社会行动的讲道吗?那么,我个人印象最深刻的是呼唤我们看见身旁的需要。我们需要求上帝感动我们,让我们认清有需要改善的地方,不管是群体或是个人。这很重要,因为在一个冷漠已经达到流行病程度的世界里,我们必须意识到,为了能持之以恒,一个人不可能为每一个人付出或完成一切。不过,我们可以为某个人或某个原因做点什么。因此,我们可能成为受不幸困扰的人的邻舍。

祈祷: 慈悲的天父,求你以上帝的爱来充满我。帮我摆脱自私。我已经习惯了自己的日常生活,而且我常合理化自己的理由。求主让我看见最需要我帮助的邻舍是谁,使我能成为他真正的朋友。奉耶稣的名祷告,阿门。