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Encounters with Jesus, pt 1

Pray: To open your time together.

Read: Luke 9: 51-56; 10: 33-37

Hospitality is a central theme of the Kingdom of God. But we live in a world and culture that is wrestling with how to be hospitable to a multitude of perspectives and how to rightly respond to hostility. One of the central questions in our cultural moment is how to respond to those who disagree with you, and even a step further, may reject you. Increasingly in Western culture, we have come to accept rage and violence as a response to social rejection.

Author and Theologian, JC Ryle makes this observation about Jesus’ response to being unwelcomed by the Samaritan village, “Uncourteous as the Samaritan villagers had been, their conduct was not to be repaid with violence. The mission of the Son of Man was to do good when men would receive Him, but never to do harm. His kingdom was to be extended by patient continuance in well-doing, and by meekness and gentleness in suffering, but never violence and severity.”

But Jesus doesn’t stop at a non-violent response. He takes us deeper.

On Sunday, Pastor Steve said, “Jesus intentionally tied the Law, seen as the bedrock of faith and godliness, to the concept of love for the other. Whereas many would have considered love for one’s neighbor as an expression of goodwill towards friends and other community members, Jesus went further. Through this parable, Jesus made a very clear point that the love he calls us to reaches wide and deep. Wide outside of our small comfort level of those with whom we like, agree, and relate. Deep into a love that costs us something.

Loving your neighbor “as yourself” means loving those far outside your community, ethnicity, culture, worldview, and political tribe – not with pity or obligation, but as you love yourself. There is no other way to follow Jesus.

Questions for your group:

  1. Is there a time recently where you felt unwelcomed or even rejected? What was that experience like? Can you relate to the disciple’s response to retaliate?
  • What is challenging to you about Jesus’ response to being unwelcomed? What is hopeful in Jesus’ response?
  • As you read the parable of the Good Samaritan, what parts stand out to you? If we take this story to heart, what does it look like to live as one who “loves your neighbor as yourself”?

Pray:

Take some time to quiet your mind. A few deep breathes may be helpful to bring your mind and body to rest. Ask the Holy Spirit what you can learn from this discussion about love and community and give some space to listen to what God has to say. Spend some time sharing what you heard with each other, and as appropriate, pray for those ideas to take root in your life this week.