Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
How do I live as a Christian?
Jesus answers this question in a parable in Luke chapter 10, verses 30 through 35:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’” (ESV).
The man who went down the road was no particular man, you could say he was “any” man and he was beaten, robbed and left for half dead. We can read this parable more than literally. There are many men and women in life who are beaten, depressed, in poverty or in sickness. The point here is that there is someone in need.
Two people pass by this man, the priest and the Levite. A Levite is another form of priestly person. But they didn’t do anything for the man. The point here is that a religion of form and words without action is not very useful, it is not very helpful.
Who is the Samaritan? The Samaritan’s were the dogs of society, the outcasts. Yet, it is this man that stops and has compassion. He took care of this beaten man and even said that he would pay more to take care of that man. He sacrificed his own time and his own money to take care of the beaten man. Why? Simply because he was in need.
This is the same thing Jesus did for us. He sacrificed his own life to rescue us from sin and Satan. Sin beats us down, but Jesus came to save us. And now he asks us to do the same thing for others.
When Jesus finished this parable he asked the lawyer that he was telling the story to, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10:36). The lawyer answered, “The one who showed him mercy.” (verse 37). And Jesus told him to go and do the same.
How, then, do you answer the question, “How should a Christian live?”
The Bible explicitly tells us that there is more to being a Christian than simply going to church on Sunday and filling a pew. The priority of the Christian life is to love God with everything you have AND to love your neighbor as yourself. And if I love God, I will love others just as he does.
Some people define the good news, the gospel, as instructions on how to get to heaven; and that involves believing that Jesus came to this earth, took our sins upon himself, paid the price for our sins, suffered, died, and was resurrected from the dead as the first to rise from the dead and enter heaven. This is true. But is that all of the gospel? IF that is all there is to salvation, then what are we doing here on earth? Are we simply waiting for our time to go to heaven? Are we supposed to share those words and nothing more?
Sometimes in our excitement about eternal life and our personal relationship with God, we forget that Jesus did a lot for people while he was here on earth. And this, too, is our ministry here. Of course, we are to share eternal salvation, but while we are here on earth we are Christ’s ambassadors, we represent Christ. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (2 Cor. 5:20).
Paul said, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4). And look at what John says, “By this we know that we are in him (Jesus): whoever says he abides in him out to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:5,6).
So how did Jesus live?
At the beginning of his ministry Jesus proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set a liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18, 19. While this certainly rings true of spiritual freedom, freedom from sin and freedom from Satan, it cannot be denied that Jesus was also talking about physical freedom. Jesus literally gave sight to the blind, he healed, he cast out demons, and he made the deaf hear. That was freedom from physical oppression. He also spoke against oppression from those in power and sought to heal broken heartedness, poverty, and rejection from society and bring acceptance, approval, compassion and love from God.
And look at what he said in Matthew 25:31-46. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Read more about helping the poor at this link)
But this social justice (as it is sometimes called) is nothing new. In Deut. 14:28, 29, the Bible says, “At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” (Click here to read about a plan for helping the poor at this link)
Look at some more examples of social justice:
Isaiah 1:17 – “Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (NIV).
Zechariah 7:9-10 – “This is what the Lord Almighty says, ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’” (NIV).
Proverbs 31:8, 9 – “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute, speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (NIV)
Micah 6:8 – “He has showed you, O man, what good and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV).
Psalms 82:3 – “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (NIV).
1 John 3:17-18 – “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (NIV).
It is easy to see that we as Christians are called, not only to spread the word of salvation, but to act on behalf of justice, to “do” justice, to help the poor and the sick and those in prison.
These are but a few examples of social justice in the Bible. I could not list them all. In fact, Jim Wallis, a Christian writer and Political activist and founder of Sojourners Magazine, in an effort to demonstrate how the Bible directs believers to behaviors that help others, cut out every verse that referred to action to be taken to help orphans, the poor, the oppressed, etc. What was left was a Bible full of holes and falling apart. He then preached that if we neglect such actions, our gospel is “full of holes.”
In conclusion, John 10:10 says that Jesus came to bring life and that life more abundantly.
The entire gospel brings freedom from spiritual oppression as well as physical oppression. God’s kingdom does not have oppression, prostitution, poverty nor addiction in it. It is why we pray “Let your kingdom come….let your will be done.”
I will leave you with the words of Mother Teresa, a woman who gave her life helping others who were oppressed. “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”