Discipleship: The Way 2

I can still see the blood-red pen marks scrawled across the paper. “Define your terms,” it reads. I don’t know about you and your college professors, but mine sure liked to scribble that on my papers. Or, when I had just said something in class I thought rather profound, and they’d come back with, “What do you mean when you say…” whatever esoteric term I flippantly said out loud that I probably didn’t know what I meant with it.

Here’s the discipleship lesson this week:

The way of discipleship is loving service, not religious duty.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is the answer to a question. So let’s consider the setup. An experienced, educated lawyer comes to Jesus, the young carpenter-rabbi with a question. One could assume his motives are sincere. But I don’t think so. I think it’s more along the lines of “Let me show you how much smarter I am than you.” You’ve met some people like this, right?

It’s a simple question: “How do I inherit eternal life?” Pretty basic, human desire. Where is the good life found? It’s not an original thought. Boilerplate philosophical stuff. Jesus throws the question right back at him. How do you interpret the Torah–the Jewish Law Scriptures?

And the lawyer comes back quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. And Jesus replies, Right on. Go and do it, and you will live. Live.

But the lawyer isn’t satisfied. Define your terms, is his comeback. What do you mean when you say neighbor? Rather than humiliate him again with another question for which he already has the answer, Jesus tells an imaginative story. And I love how N.T. Wright summarizes it,

“What is at stake, then and now, is the question of whether we will use the God-given revelation of love and grace as a way of boosting our own sense of isolated security and purity, or whether we will see it as a call and challenge to extend that love and grace to the whole world. No church, no Christian, can remain content with easy definitions that allow us to watch most of the world lying half-dead in the road. Todays preachers, and today’s defenders of the gospel, must find fresh ways of telling the story of God’s love which will do for our day what this brilliant parable did for Jesus’ first hearers.”

The way of discipleship is loving service, not religious duty.


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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