Thursday, January 11, 2007

What Must I Do To Inherit Eternal Life?

Recently, I pulled into my driveway and saw my neighbor (a devout Mormon) in his front yard struggling with a broom handle trying to get Christmas lights up into his tree. It was a mess off lights, and he was in quite a pickle. I saw him and I just went inside. I had been “working at the church” and was ready to be home relaxing. I am afraid I might resemble a story in the Bible.

“What must I do to inherit eternal life”? “Love your neighbor” answered Jesus. “Who is my neighbor”? Those are the questions asked by an expert in religion to Jesus.

Many of you know His response. Jesus tells a story (Luke 10) of a pastor, a church volunteer, and a despised minority group member. The two who “love God” correctly by attending church regularly fail to care for a hurting person on the street. While the despised one sees, has compassion, and uses his personal resources to alleviate the hurting one’s suffering.

Difficult though it may be for us to admit it, this is pretty close to the situation we have today when we drive to or from church (or synagogue or mosque) to be "holy" for the morning - to get “closer to ‘God’”, and yet we look away from the beggar positioned at the traffic light.

Without getting too distracted by the “will work for food” people on most corners in Vegas and whether it is an injustice not to give them five bucks each time we see them, I would like to ask a different question. What do you feel when you see people in need? I mean needs in general, whether big or small, what do you feel?

I believe the answer to that question speaks directly to the question of eternal life. Yes, the answer to this question holds the keys to heaven. If you feel “compassion” like the Samaritan, you hurt for others and can’t stop hurting until you “do something”. To live a life of “doing nothing” could mean that the life of God (eternal life) may not be in us and that can be a scary thought for a pastor or regular churchgoer.

Jesus said whoever believes in me shall have “eternal life” so I guess I am now asking afresh what does it mean in practical terms to be a true believer in Jesus? Could it be that to “love God” means “love your neighbor”? And could it be that loving my neighbor is the evidence of eternal life in me? I am not saying that because I missed the Christmas lights with my neighbor I am going to hell, but these questions are giving me great pause. I am asking my Father for His forgiveness and His compassion for others. I want to live the Jesus Creed. According to Jesus, “do this and you shall live”.

Series Continues: “The Jesus Creed”

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