“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 23, NO. 27&28 – IT’ S THE GREATEST BECAUSE IT’S THE HARDEST
Anyone who makes the claim that they are a believer in the God of the Bible knows that the greatest commandment is not one of the ten, but the one that sums up all the rest. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your strength.” The second, which is just like it, according to Jesus, is: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
That those commandments have been and are debatable is evidenced by the question, “What is the greatest commandment” posed to Jesus, which prompted the above answer.
Jesus is then asked to describe who a neighbor is, and we get the story of the “good” Samaritan.
Why are those “great” commands so hard? They are hard because there are people that we simply don’t like. And truth be told, they’re not likable. They are the kind of people we feel violated being around. We want to take a bath after hearing the hatred, bigotry, vulgarity and prejudice that comes out of their mouths. We see them as a detriment to a sane and wholesome society. The words from 11 Peter, “They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed”, seem too soft a description of them. In fact, in context it seems these people were part of the church. If you read the second chapter you
will see the words, “they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed”. Does that sound like some people you either know, or have heard of? Now, let me hasten to say that what I have just said is part of the problem with loving one’s neighbor.
Not all people fit what Peter or I said. The problem comes when we stick everyone in the same slot. When we do that it is easy to separate one “neighbor” from the other. There were no “good” Samaritans if you were a Jew. There were no “good” Gentiles either. There might be an exception to each of those, but generally all Samaritans and Gentiles were not your neighbor in the sense of the commandment to love them. It is Jesus who breaks down the “wall of separation” between people and makes everyone a neighbor. So there are Christians who live as though the neighbor is not a neighbor, but still go to church and say they believe this is the greatest commandment.
We do that when the “wall” of fear and prejudice is maintained between us. Remember the fear that was spread over electing John Kennedy because he was Catholic? At that time there was an historical wall between Catholics and Protestants. But the truth was there were Catholics and Protestants who were “neighbor” to each other, did not fear each other because they knew each other.
Since 9/11 a fear of Muslims has increased. It is too easy and fails the test of Jesus, to read the Koran and the passages that speak of violence and assume all Muslims literally obey what is written, any more than reading the Old Testament and saying all Jews and Christians mimic the violence and instructions that are found there.
We have seen the worst of those who are militant, terrorist, Muslims. The fact that they have been denounced by other Muslims does not satisfy many Christians. Why? Because we are afraid, and when we are afraid we can not love.
Are there people of which to be afraid? Of course. Are their groups of people of which to be afraid? Of course. When someone is raping wives and daughters and killing children, loving that “neighbor” is the last thing on one’s mind. I could say that is rare, but in some parts of the world it is almost routine.
I don’t think Jesus was talking about that. It seems to me that Jesus, because of the “good” Samaritan story, is talking about bigotry, prejudice and hatred toward people who differ in philosophy, color, race, religion, social standing, wealth and nationality, simply because they are different. There is none of Jesus’ love of neighbor in that.
CONNCERNS: Erma Williams’s dad is in now in rehab. Ron Matney has been having stomach problems. Judy McWhorter is in Guatemala this week with Health Talents Int. Pray for her and all those with her as they help those folks. Eleanor Crush remains about the same. Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Joni Beach’s aunt has terminal cancer. Also, her mother is dealing with it as well. Alma Martin, Helen Nicklas, Randy Conner, Mike Breeding and his wife, Tim Elder and all the good works being done that bless the people of the world.
OUR DAILY BREAD: OCT. 3-8
Monday: Matthew 7:7-11
Tuesday: Romans 3:21-31
Wednesday: James 2:14-26
Thursday: Mark 2:1-12
Friday: I Peter 1:3-12
Saturday: Psalm 105:1-45
OUR DAILY BREAD: OCT. 10-15
Monday: Acts 17:16-34
Tuesday: Colossians 3:1-17
Wednesday: John 11:17-44
Thursday: Romans 4:1-8;5:1-11
Friday: I Thess. 5:12-28
Saturday: Psalm 118:1-29
The Alberts have invited us to their home on Smith Mt Lake this evening. The eats will be hot dogs. If you want to bring some fixnin’s that’s good. Maps are available on the table in the foyer. Come around 3 PM.
We ere sorry to hear of the death of Roger Fisher’s brother-in-law. The funeral was in West Virginia.
LADIES CRAFT DAY
Are any of you ladies in need of some time and space to work your current craft project? Well we have the answer for you…we are planning our first ladies craft day in the annex, Saturday, October 22nd from 9am until 4pm. I know we have several very crafty ladies in our midst…knitting, beading, smocking and scrapbooking come to mind. Please plan to come and enjoy craft time or just visit with the ladies in the church. Please see Kirsten Pierce for more details.
LIFE LINE SCREENING
Once again Life Line screening will be using our annex to do bone scans and other vascular and artery scans. For full details and registration, go to lifelinescreenin.com. The time will be from 8am to 4pm on Wednesday, October 12.
Super Sunday is October 16. Make plans to be there and enjoy the fellowship meal.
PEAKS HIKE AND PICNIC
October 16 is also the day of the Peaks of Otter Hike and Picnic. A sign-up list is on the table in the foyer. You only need to sign if you are going to be at the picnic. Also, if it is a pretty day and you plan to ride the bus up, be sure to get there in time because the tickets sell out quickly. The picnic will start about 5pm.
THE U S MAIL
An early warning. It may be that the downtown post office will no longer be a sorting center for our local mail. Mail mailed in Roanoke will go all the way to Greensboro, NC to be sorted and then sent back to Roanoke for delivery! This means the local bulletins may not arrive before Sunday. If you have e-mail and have not yet used it to receive the bulletin, this might be a good time to sign up.