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Away With the Rulebook

April 8, 2009 2 comments

“And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29 (NKJV)

“Who’s my neighbor?” That was the question posed to Jesus by a man who wanted to know what it takes to get to heaven. Initially, Jesus revealed that it all came down to a love-based relationship-with God first, then man. But this wasn’t enough for this man. He wanted to know who exactly his neighbor was, as if salvation was a matter of following some sort of rulebook.

Jesus wanted to get the point across that salvation is about mercy and grace, not abiding by a checklist of rigid definitions. To do so, He shared the parable that we all know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. A certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. A Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. A certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. and took care of him. (Luke 10:30-34 NKJV)

After painting this contrasting portrait of indifference versus compassion, Jesus springs a question on His listener:

“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37 NKJV)

Being neighborly isn’t a matter of drawing a line of exclusion. It’s about inclusive mercy. Jesus’ point is simply this: In God’s Kingdom we’re called to put away the rulebook and allow the mercy God has shown us to flow through us to as many people as possible.

Discuss, Dig, Decide

Discuss the difference between Jesus’ outlook on life and the outlook held by the man who asks Him the question. Which outlook best reflects the view maintained by each person in your group?

Dig into Luke 10:30-37 and identify the main point Jesus is making. How does this relate to the original question posed to Him, and how does it serve as a teaching tool?

Decide as a group to be neighborly to the people God has placed in your lives. Take some practical steps to help remind you of Jesus’ outlook and perspective.

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