Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 23: Reach Beyond Ethnic Barriers : Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004
December 30 2004 by John Pond

Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 23: Reach Beyond Ethnic Barriers : Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004
Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004

Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 23: Reach Beyond Ethnic Barriers

By John Pond
Focal Passage: Luke 10:25-37

During the ethnic fighting in Rwanda and Burundi, I was traveling with a group of Rwandan Hutu believers. We were traveling in an area that bordered the two nations. On the journey we were discussing the history of the church and its growth over the last century. During the conversation I mentioned the impact the gospel had had upon the three tribes of Rwanda/Burundi. "Tutsis can never be saved!" one of my passengers stated.

I was amazed, "It's impossible for a Tutsi to be saved," he repeated.

"How is this possible? Isn't Jesus able to save everyone?" I asked.

"Yes," came the reply. "But, in order to be saved you have to admit you are wrong and need help. A Tutsi would never admit to ever being wrong, therefore he cannot be saved!"

In spite of more than 150 years of mission work and evangelism, ethnic hatred is still present within the church of Africa. In spite of several hundred years of church growth and revivalism in the United States, racial prejudice is still a sad reality in the church.

Peter, in Acts 10:34-35, discovered, "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him." Jesus commanded His disciples: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another ... By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).

These words call into question any church that does not open its doors to everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity.

And who is our neighbor?

Love people unconditionally

Luke 10:25-28

In an effort to test and entrap Jesus, a lawyer challenged Him with a question concerning eternal life: "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Rather than be drawn into a debate Jesus asked for the expert's understanding of the law and the boundary-marker for inheriting life in the age to come. The lawyer's reply is the Shema taken from Deuteronomy 6:6 and Leviticus 19:18 showing that he knew the law so far as the words went. The commandment stated that we must love God and our neighbor unconditionally.

The lawyer's words were correct. Thus, Jesus encouraged him to "keep on doing this forever, and you will live!"

Overcome self-centeredness

Luke 10:29-32

Seeking to further define the boundaries of the shema, the lawyer replied, "And who is my neighbor?" He quickly shifted the focus of his theological snare to a question often discussed and heatedly debated. Though they would split hairs over this question, the Jewish experts excluded from "neighbor" Gentiles and especially Samaritans (A.T. Robertson). For them the neighbor was someone who looked, acted and were just like them - a Jew.

Jesus replied with a parable about a traveler, who in a foolhardy and reckless manner, travels to Jerusalem alone on "The Red" or "Bloody Way." He is surrounded and attacked by a band of robbers and left stripped and half-dead. Three individuals pass the wounded Jew - a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. The priest and Levite both respond in the same manner but with differing reasons. The priest could not risk losing his turn of duty in the temple by touching anything unclean. The Levite probably feared the body was a decoy left by the robbers and would not risk helping. Neither could afford to cross the line.

Reach beyond barriers

Luke 10:33-37

"A certain Samaritan" came upon the stricken man. He didn't bypass or dodge him, but had compassion on him. One who was despised by the Jew was a neighbor to a Jew, in fact his neighbor.

The lawyer had asked the prerequisite for life in the age to come. Jesus replied that it was not in ceremonial purity or pangs of pity, but spontaneous, practical compassionate deeds.

God created a world of diversity with each person bearing His image. The church is to be a community of love and life. As Jesus told the lawyer: "Go, and do the same!"

12/30/2004 12:00:00 AM by John Pond | with 0 comments

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