The Gospel message challenges us to the core. So many times, we fail to live up to it. Even worse, we drive against it with a vengeance.
Increasingly, tribalism defines our world more than ever. A major part of our thoughts and actions revolve around an Us vs. Them mentality. This spans across countries, politics, religions, and even families. And the devil loves this.
The world has become obsessed with self-preservation which gives rise to conflict everywhere. Nation rises against nation. Citizens raise their fists against their fellow citizen. We hear people say things like, “He’s not a true American,” or “She’s not a real Christian” or “They aren’t true Catholics”.
Adolf Hitler began his ideological journey in a similar way. In his book Mein Kampf, Hitler questions if Jews are true Germans. He eventually reaches his conclusion and writes:
“I was happy at last to know for certain that the Jew is not a German.”
Then, Hitler chillingly concludes:
“And so I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.”
This kind of thought—in the mind of just one human being—can lead to genocide. Hitler believed he acted in accordance with God. The demon will invoke any name for sinister purposes.
Today, this same malicious spirit takes root in tribes fighting each other tooth-and-nail. We defend ourselves against the alt-right, the social democrats, the LGBT, the progressives, the Republicans, the Democrats, the communists, the socialists, the capitalists, and on and on and on. Here in Argentina, it’s the one on the other side of the “grieta”.
Yes, we must stand up for truth and justice, BUT if we dehumanize the other, our sin is much more severe. In your heart, how much are you hating your opponent? Are you hating “in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator”?
Victims of this evil distortion continue to suffer and die every day.
In stark contrast, in the Good Samaritan parable (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus shows why he was the most radical moral teacher of all time.
Remember the story? A wounded man, the victim of assault, lying on the side of the road to Jericho was stepped over by a priest and a Levite.
Only the Samaritan showed compassion to the injured man.
In Jesus’ time, the Samaritans were mortal enemies of his people. Here Jesus tells us that any sense of tribal superiority is an offense to God. The member of any group is capable of great good. Jesus used the Samaritan, an opposing tribe member, as the one that obeyed the most sacred commandment of all:
“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.” (Luke 10:27)
If he told this parable today, Jesus might have used a Muslim instead of a Samaritan as the do-gooder.
Disagreeing with an ideology does not make it right to let hate poison your heart.
Meaningful acts of compassion and mercy require us to embrace inconvenience. We must go out of our way to hurt and suffer for the wounded ones. This is how God’s love restores humankind. This is the way of the cross of Christ.
How radically different is Jesus’ emphasis compared to the tribal, self-preserving rage that permeates our world today.
I have had people very close to me hurt people I loved. It got to the point where I wished for the death of those doing the hurting. Such is the venom of Satan. When you embrace evil, it invades, contaminates, and hardens your heart.
And sometimes, you’re the wounded man on the side of the road. You’ve been beat up by life and your own mistakes. And Jesus comes to help and heal you. He bandages your wounds, pours out oil and wine, and takes you to the inn to recover. He goes the extra mile for you.
The way of Christ says this: exaggerate your effort to do good. Go out of your way and spend your valuable time and hard-earned money. Pay the price. Let this be the focus your energy and effort.
This kind of action requires a lot of energy and focus. If we are too concerned though with winning a tribal victory, then we’ll probably step over the wounded on the side of the road.
Are you more concerned about defending what you have… or giving what you have?
Jesus said to follow him. He wasn’t a survivalist. He wasn’t interested in power or control. Instead, Jesus was a servant — and he is our King.
If we let the Lord cleanse us and care for us — we just might be strong enough & pure enough in our hearts to follow him.
And this Spirit—in just one Man—is capable of healing the world.
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