Monday, February 27, 2012

On Your Way Home from Church...

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho fell among robbers and was beaten until he was "half dead." The wounded man on the road would die unless someone helped him.  Jerusalem was 3,000 feet higher in elevation than Jericho.  A colony of 12,000 priests lived in Jericho, and they would travel "up the road" to Jerusalem to serve in the temple.  When they had finished their weekly temple duty, they would go "down the road" back to Jericho.

In Luke 10:31, a priest was going "down the road," which meant he had finished serving God in church, uh, I mean the temple, and was on his way home. A priest was the highest position in the temple, offering up people's sacrifices to God.  If anyone was supposedly close to God, it was a priest.

But now he was going home from church, uh, I mean the temple, and was "off the clock." He sees this half-dead man lying in the road and decides to walk by without helping him. Next a Levite comes by and he too bypasses him.  The Levites assisted the priests in the temple.  So this man was also on his way home from church, uh, I mean the temple, but didn't stop to rescue the man. 

What did the priest and the Levite have in common?  They both supposedly loved and served in the temple. They acted one way inside of the temple and another way when they were away from it. They claimed to love God but it wasn't manifested in their daily walk in how they treated others.

Many people who attend church are like that priest and Levite in the parable. They act one way inside the church, but completely different after they leave. They claim to love God during the church service, but it isn't manifested on the daily road of life.  Another word for this "double life" is hypocrisy--acting one way at church and completely different away from it.

The parable concludes when a Samaritan comes by and rescues the man. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews because they had a rival temple on Mt. Gerazim. (This is why the woman at the well in John 4:20 asked Jesus which was the right mountain to worship God--Jerusalem or Gerazim).  Ironically, the Samaritan worshipped in the wrong temple, yet showed more compassion than the priest and the Levite who served in the right temple.

It just goes to show that it's not the church you attend that makes you right with God, but what's inside your heart.  So next Sunday, when you're on your way home from the temple, uh, I mean church, remember the parable of the Good Samaritan.