I’m always fascinated to hear unbelievers today arguing that while they do not believe Jesus to be God, he nevertheless seemed to be a pretty nice guy—and a great moral teacher at that.
But interestingly enough, those who did not follow Christ as Lord during his earthly ministry would have vehemently disagreed. The Roman and Jewish leaders didn’t see Jesus as some warm and fuzzy thought-leader; they saw him as a radical whose teaching stood in opposition to everything they supposed religion ought to be.
In Matthew 22, having just silenced the Sadducees, Jesus later found himself being confronted by the Pharisees who asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Hoping to catch him in a silent stupor, these religious leaders likely had some smug looks painted across their faces.
Try as they might, the Pharisees simply couldn’t stump the God of the universe. Jesus answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” the second greatest commandment, he added, was to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
As followers of Jesus, our mission here on earth is wrapped up in one power-filled four-letter word: love. Because we love God with everything we are— heart, soul, and mind— we are driven to love our neighbors—fellow bearers of the imago Dei.
Our neighbors, Jesus later teaches, aren’t just the people who we look like, talk like, or live near us. Instead, they’re from communities, cultures, and religious groups all over the globe. Chances are, we’ve little in common with them in terms of custom or tradition, but none of this matters in light of Christ’s last word to his disciples: “Go.”
Jesus told his disciples to go, get up off their feet, and move—to show and share his love in a broken and hurting world—because mission, ultimately, is at the heart of the gospel. But what we learn is that the call to “go” can and should look different for each of us. Some may find themselves going abroad, others of us won’t venture farther than the next town or city over.
Interestingly enough, for the ‘Good Samaritan’ from the parable Jesus told, the neighbor in need he was called to help was right next to him: an injured man laying on the side of the road. Often, mission work is about as unglamorous as bandaging up another person’s wounds, be them physical, spiritual, or emotional. There is no exotic, overseas journey—it’s just one person taking action to bring another to a place of ultimate healing at the foot of the cross.
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Source: Christianity Today