We spend a great deal of time talking about what we don’t know about. In the next room someone needs us but we are playing with words – about what we don’t know much about. Those Avett Brothers have been on my mind all week, especially their song, “Ten Thousand Words.” (See the video in the right sidebar.)
It is not that we do not know the language. It is not that we do not know how to describe what we should know about. Instead, it is that talking about something does not necessarily mean we know much about it. So goes the life of the people of God.
This week’s “mashup” of texts in this edition of “Thoughts from the Edge” considers the implications of Amos 7 and Luke 10. Or in some more familiar terms, what does a plumb line have to do with a Samaritan? Our “hand-off” approach to people derives from the legal wrangling akin to the Scribe in the parable of the Samaritan and the Wounded Jew (a.k.a., The Good Samaritan). We spend a great deal of time trying to determine who we “don’t” have to help. For some of us who live in areas where there is not a great deal of ethnic diversity we think we skate by on the central issue Jesus gets to in the parable.
We first must reckon with what is the central issue. Does Jesus really answer the question posed, “Who is my neighbor?” Or in typical fashion does Jesus move to ask his own question there by deconstructing the facade of the lawyer and his alleged concern to put into practice the teaching of the law – Love your neighbor as yourself? Yes, it is the latter. The heart of Jesus’ move is to note the relationship of the people of God necessitates living as neighbors rather than split hairs over just who is my neighbor. And that is where the plumb line enters.
In something of a reversal, the more direct prophetic words describes a people who both do not understand who their neighbor is and certainly do not live as neighbors. The judgment is removal from the land – the representation of the relationship between YHWH and his people. What about the church in contemporary times? Does the supposed loss of a “Christian consensus” have more to do with a living out the parable than the battle with secularism and humanism? If the consensus were built on living as neighbors, how could it be lost except we fail to live as neighbors in the world in the Name of Jesus.