Neighbors We Ignore

If you’ve gone to church even a few times, chances are you’ve heard the story of The Good Samaritan. It’s a “classic” among the parables of Jesus. One that preachers love to tell because the imagery is so simple, yet the message is so moving. This story stirs something deep inside us. It flips the script of what we assume to be true, which is that religious people are people of character who always do the right thing. Because in this particular story, the person who ends up helping the wounded man, essentially, is not the minister or the deacon or the Sunday school coordinator. It’s the bi-racial 20-something yr. old, Catholic converted Muslim woman, fully tattooed and wearing a hijab that stops to care for the man beat up on a city street. But we’ll come back to this story... 

There’s actually two stories happening in these 12 verses of Luke 10. The story of The Good Samaritan is encapsulated by a larger story in which Jesus is having a conversation with a Hebrew scholar. This was an expert of law and there was no distinction in this society between civil and religious law. This lawyer had every intention of trying to back Jesus into a corner. The Greek word used translated “test;” he was testing Jesus. 

He asks Jesus, “What must I do to have eternal life?” And this is where Jesus sounds like every mother that out-wits her children on a daily basis by answering a question with a question. 

My mom had this technique down. There was this one time I remember

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Advocate For Something or Stand For Nothing

Excerpt:

Many Christians and politicians are constantly referencing the Bible, what Jesus says, and what God commands Christians to do. Some politicians let their conservative faith influence their politics, smearing the lines between the separation of church and state in dangerous and destructive ways. Holding citizens (of differing religious views) hostage to the conservative interpretation of the rules and principles of a single, solitary religion. Our politics, our policies, our laws and legislation are created to protect the rights and freedoms of the people.

One of those rights is the freedom of religion, in which we choose the faith we will follow. And then, the faith of our citizens can inform and influence the way we interact with and treat one another. Contrary to the ignorance of many Christians, other faiths and religious groups are not anti-morals and anti-values. While a man named “Jesus” may not be in their Holy texts, many religions teach the same values, ethics, and virtues of peace, love, compassion, service, and justice for the suffering that Jesus taught.

[10 min. read, stick with it… it’s worth it.]

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The God We Share

On March 1, Rob Nash, global missions coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and Alvin Sugarman, rabbi emeritus at The Temple, Atlanta’s oldest synagogue, were featured speakers at a Baptist-Jewish dialogue to benefit the Community Food Bank in Atlanta.

While I expected to learn a few things, broaden my theological horizons and hear a few familiar tunes, I did not expect the deep spiritual churning my soul would undergo.

Nash spoke with honesty and authenticity while describing our Baptist history, beliefs and faith. His transparency was refreshing, but it was Rabbi Sugarman’s deep, soul-gripping compassion that set my heart free.

I was so profoundly moved by my Jewish brother and guest lecturer at McAfee School of Theology that I found a pen and notepad on my table and — as my table guests curiously looked on — began to frantically scribble words, phrases and ideas that flowed simultaneously from Sugarman’s lips and my own heart.

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