Reread Luke 10:25-37
In Oregon they have these old blimp hangars that line the coast that housed the blimps that patrolled the coastline looking for Japanese submarines. They are truly enormous buildings, and one has become the Tillamook Air Museum. I went on a trip one time and was almost as impressed with the building as the planes inside. The door to the hangar that let the blimps out is an impressive feat of engineering, something like 80 feet high and twice that wide. As I admired the door I looked up an noticed that someone had a great sense of humor; in the middle above the door on the inside, some joker had hung a basketball hoop! This hoop was so far up and so far out that the odds of making that shot, even with an air cannon, were hilariously laughable. Yet there it was, daring someone to try…
The justifying question which kicked off Jesus’ teaching, “And who is my neighbor?” is a question for those looking for the easier softer way; a “path of least resistance” kind of faith. Perhaps even a path of “least persistence” kind of faith, as once we feel justified… we feel justified to stop moving forward with God because we feel we have arrived. Yet in Jesus’ many teachings the standard He gives is one that raises the bar impossibly high. It is a standard we could never arrive at on our own, without grace. In connecting loving God to loving others, Jesus made a standard that was impossibly high. There is no place outside the bounds of worshiping God. No place we can divide our holy actions from our profane ones.
There are two ways we can approach living this teaching out: we can look at this impossible standard and–trusting in our own ability and power–decide whether or not taking the shot is worth the risk, and either give up without ever trying or give up after failing mightily. Or, we can put radical trust in God: we can trust that God will help us reach the goal and will be with us “scaffolding” our growth as we learn to listen and obey.
Loving God through our neighbors is risky business. We are bound to make mistakes and fall short. But the standard is there like that basketball hoop, daring us to suspend our disbelief at the impossibility of the task and be obedient to take our shot. The truth is, it is only in recognizing our need for God that we would ever make it. It is only in knowing we cannot do it alone and knowing that it will take God continuing to call us out beyond ourselves–beyond the limitations of our strength and the limitations of the love we have in our hearts. But when we recognize this, we also get the opportunity to see the glory and majesty of God… we also see with new eyes, how radical a transformation He is calling us to experience. And we find the hope required to make that shot, despite our fears and limitations.
For this Friday Fool’s Challenge prayer, take a few minutes for thinking about the victories and struggles of loving God through our neighbors. Remember a time you fell short and God helped dust you off to get back on your feet for a fresh start. Remember a time you, through faithfullnes, experienced a victorious change in your life; making a small baby step toward closer Christ-likeness in your dealings with other humans. As you watch the video, feel free to close your eyes and make this song a prayer for God, recognizing both the utter need you have for God, as well as the simple majesty of who He is.