Saturday, July 14, 2007

who is my neighbor?

It turns out that faith is not a secret code of rightness that will unlock the treasure of eternal life. It turns out that faith is a relationship with God and with the world, and that the name of this relationship is love. —Barbara Crafton+

An anonymous commenter responded to my potato salad post: "I'm wondering, Sister (Doctor?), if you might give us an example or two of doctrine as "arbitrary" as dill over sweet?"

Well, first of all I'm generally not in the mood to respond to anonymous anybodies anymore (unless it's my son). If you can't be bothered to type in your name, you don't deserve a reply. Second of all, I'm not a Doctor, nor do I have an MDiv. I do have a Bachelor's in fine art and graphic design... but that's not exactly credentials for interpreting the Word. Interpretation requires no credentials, actually requires less than a brain... I may need my brain to put my thoughts together and type them out in written form, but I only need my heart to recognize the truth.

Still, it's a good question, (especially if you're a lawyer) and even more so if you'd like to put me in my place for spouting unfootnoted opinions about scripture. Maybe it was the word gospel that did it... even though I used a little "g".

Tomorrow's Gospel: (Luke 10: 25-37) the parable of the good Samaritan is as good an example as any, so I'll use that. Luke implies that the question the lawyer asked was meant to trip Jesus up. And Jesus didn't bite the bait, at least not in any way that would be satisfying... he told a story.

He told a story about a man who might be called an unbeliever by some of today's scripture police. This man performed an unsolicited act of charity. He saved a life, took a risk, treated a perfect stranger in need as if it were someone from his own household. The implication to this story was that this unbeliever, having acted with compassion and love to his "neighbor" would in fact, inherit eternal life. (You didn't get that part?)

But how could that be possible? It says in Acts 4:12 that you must believe in Jesus Christ to obtain salvation. (Well at least Peter said you must.) Yet, in Acts 10 this same Peter gets his comeuppance directly from God... and a bunch of gentiles receive the Holy Spirit before they even get baptized.

My priest friend and spiritual director her site is here concluded her thoughts on the good Samaritan parable with these words:

It turns out there's no secret code, no hidden key. There's no need of one: eternal life isn't locked. Anybody can live as a lover of God and neighbor, just by walking out his front door and looking around at what needs to be done. And then doing the first thing that presents itself. And then another. And another. As many as you want — they're all your neighbors. And the Christ who lives in you also lives in each of them.

Oh... by the way, she has the credentials.

No comments: