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A Place to Belong

As Jesus shares a most intimate moment with his followers on the eve of his crucifixion, he wants to reassure them that he is not leaving them alone but preparing a place where they can be together, so that man and God can coexist. As Jesus says, "where I AM, you may be also" (John 14:3). When Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), he is responding to a religious lawyer's question about exactly who his 'neighbor' is that he is called to love. Rather than identifying who we are to love, Jesus rather describes the kind of neighbor we are to become! The shocking conclusion of the story (at least to the Jewish lawyer), is that a despised Samaritan is the good neighbor. In telling the story the way he did, Jesus is making an important point... What you think is outside, God has put inside. To emphasize the point, he contrasts a seemingly excluded person (a Samaritan) with those presumed to be the closest insiders - a priest and a Levite. The Samaritan is more inside the boundaries of what is good/pure/loving than the religious leaders! If you want to know what love looks like, Jesus is saying, here it is: Love crosses borders and boundaries; it makes new cultural rules; it cares for the stranger. Love turns strangers into friends. Fierce love is rule-breaking, border-crossing, ferocious, and extravagant kindness that draws people in . . . . I have been reading a book recently about hospitality, which the author describes as "the ground-zero of the Christian faith". She talks about how hospitality turns strangers into neighbors and neighbors into the family of God. All of this calls for us to partner with Jesus in creating spaces for people to belong, space in our hearts as well as our homes. A place where we meet each other, learn each others' stories, support and heal one another as the life of Christ is lived and expressed through our love for one another as Jesus describes.

How is Jesus (your Lord) inviting you to cross boundaries, risk our differences and discover our common humanity in order that we would be transformed and God would be glorified?

Much love and prayers, Pastor Mike

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