Our daily bread…
(Gathering Our Inheritance)
Knowing that we can claim ownership of our inheritance in the living hour is one thing. But what are we supposed to do with that knowledge? The childhood keys of wonderment and immediacy help unlock the door to the kingdom of heaven, but they don’t have the power to usher us across the threshold. To cross into the kingdom and gather our inheritance, we have to move beyond the carefree world of the child and into the care-driven world of adults—to expand our concerns beyond the “me” to include the “us”.
We can begin by recognizing that although the spontaneity of the child and the adult are similar, they are not one and the same. Take for example the miracles that Jesus performs in the Gospels. If we can set aside the unanswerable question of whether or not these miracles actually occurred, we can begin to see the miracle stories as parables of spontaneity, ones which teach us that living in Christ means immediately responding to the needs of others. Whether it is healing the sick,1 walking on water,2 or turning water into wine,3 Jesus never hesitates but responds spontaneously and confidently to those who call out to him.
Spontaneous charity is taught also by the story of the Good Samaritan.4 In this well–known parable a man gets robbed and beaten while on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho. A priest and a local man pass by him as he lies half–dead on the road. Finally a stranger from Samaria stops, tends to his wounds, and takes him to an inn to recuperate, paying the man’s bills—all without giving his actions a second thought.
The genuine caring shown by the Good Samaritan sheds light on Jesus’s enigmatic teaching: “When you do acts of charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your charity may be secret; and your Father, who sees what is in secret, will recompense you.”5 By performing our acts of charity spontaneously like the Samaritan, we keep them secret from our egos (that part of us which wants to debate whether we have the time, money, or energy to respond to others in need), and we allow our Christ consciousness to rise (that part of us which recognizes that when others suffer we suffer too). Our charity is thus driven by nothing except a true generosity of spirit.
Jesus encourages us to bring that same spirit to our acts of fellowship. The generosity of Christ is shown by welcoming all the members of our community to our table—the good and the bad, the funny and the dull, the smart and the annoying. Look at the way Jesus accepted twelve very flawed apostles as his intimates. That he took in Judas (knowing full well that he would betray him) and never gave up on the poor, clueless, and overzealous Peter should be a lesson to us all. Furthermore, we are told how Jesus regularly sat down to eat and drink with his neighbors,6 regardless of how “righteous” they might be or what other people thought—so much so that he was unfairly labeled a glutton and a wino.7
Never has Jesus’s gospel of fellowship and acceptance had more…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- “Sir,” he said, “my servant is lying ill at my house with a stroke of paralysis, and is suffering terribly.” 7 “I will come and cure him,” answered Jesus. – Matthew 8:6–7 [↩]
- When evening fell, the boat was out in the middle of the sea, and Jesus on the shore alone. 48 Seeing them laboring at the oars—for the wind was against them—about three hours after midnight Jesus came towards them, walking on the water, intending to join them. – Mark 6:47–48 [↩]
- Jesus said to the servants: “Fill the water-jars with water;” 8 And, when they had filled them to the brim, he added: “Now take some out, and carry it to the master of the feast.” The servants did so. 9 And, when the master of the feast had tasted the water which had now become wine, not knowing where it had come from—although the servants who had taken out the water knew—10 He called the bridegroom and said to him: “Everyone puts good wine on the table first, and inferior wine afterwards, when his guests have drunk freely; but you have kept back the good wine till now!” – John 2:6–10 [↩]
- A man was once going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him of everything, and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 As it chanced, a priest was going down by that road. He saw the man, but passed by on the opposite side. 32 A Levite, too, did the same; he came up to the spot, but, when he saw the man, passed by on the opposite side. 33 But a Samaritan, traveling that way, came upon the man, and, when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, dressing them with oil and wine, and then put him on his own mule, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out four shillings and gave them to the inn-keeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he said, ‘and whatever more you may spend I will myself repay you on my way back.’ – Luke 10: 30–35 [↩]
- Matthew 6:3–4 [↩]
- The Pharisees and the teachers of the law found fault. “This man always welcomes sinners, and takes meals with them!” they complained. – Luke 15:2 [↩]
- And now that the Son of Man has come, eating and drinking, they are saying: ‘Here is a glutton and a wino, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’ Matthew 11:19 [↩]
On reading that Broadway was reproducing the classic 1970s musical The Wiz, we were reminded of one of its most memorable songs, Ease on Down the Road, sung by a spirited Diana Ross (Dorothy) and Michael Jackson (Scarecrow) while on their way to see The Wiz (Richard Pryor).
The song tells us don’t you carry nothing that might be a load, come on, ease on down, ease on down the road.
For Progressive Christians called by Jesus to repeatedly lay down our lives for others1, this is good advice. We are not asked to carry the burdens of others, but to lift up the fallen. Jesus teaches this in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The charitable man from Samaria doesn’t fret over the fate and circumstances of his fallen brethren but lifts him up from the road, does what he can to tend to the man’s needs, then eases on down, eases on down the road..
When we Christians feel compelled to carry the burdens of others, more often than not, it reveals a compulsion to martyrdom: a strong desire to identify ourselves with Jesus on the Cross. But it was through life and joy that Jesus sought to teach us about the kingdom of God (The Wiz), not through suffering and death.
The Living Hour’s SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) motivational series combines history, literature, philosophy, religion, and popular culture to help bring about new perspectives for Progressive Christians and anyone who seeks a better understanding of “God” and life’s purpose. Sign up to have these progressive Motivationals delivered to your e-mail box three times a week.
- This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life to receive it again. No one took it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again. This is the command which I received from my Father. – John 10:17-18 [↩]