The Bad Levite

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?” He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence – and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead.

“Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill – I’ll pay you on my way back.’”

“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

Luke 10:25-37

We’ve heard many people preach on this story about the Samaritan and how, despite the fact that he was a member of a group hated by the Jews, he stopped and helped a Jewish man. What is frequently missed is the role of the Levite and the priest.

Remember that Jesus told this story to one of the leaders of the Pharisee sect. It contains a warning as to one of the excesses that religion can lead us all into.

Notice that the first two that passed by the wounded man were religious leaders: the first a priest, the second a Levite, one of the keepers of the temple in Jerusalem. These men were enthusiastic about serving God in the way that they best understood.

The key here is that he was left half-dead. To passers-by he would’ve looked like a corpse, or nearly so. By Jewish law the dead were unclean and anyone that touched a dead body would be unclean.

The Levite and the priest were on their way to conduct service for the Lord. If they had stopped to assist this man and he died, they would be unclean and, by law, would be forbidden from entering the temple until the following evening.

“I’m on my way to do what’s really important and serve the Lord in his temple,” they must’ve thought. “Anyone can stop and help this man. I’m sure someone will be along any minute.”

These men were so caught up in what they thought was doing God’s work, that they missed an opportunity to do the real thing.

For Christians, serving the Lord is not something that goes on when we go to church, it’s what we do during the week. Going to church is important for us to recharge our batteries for the week ahead. It’s during the week that we pour out what we’ve received by being servants to the people around us.

When the widow woman came to Elisha in I Kings 4 and asked for help to pay her bills, Elisha said, “What do you have in your house?”

She told him, “A little oil.” Oil is a symbol of the anointing. The churches are filled with people hungry for the anointing of the Lord. We all want more. How do we get more?

Elisha told her to gather together the vessels of her friends and neighbors and fill them up with oil and as long as she was pouring into them, she would never run out.

What do you have in your house?

When the disciples came to Jesus in Mark and asked him how they were going to feed the multitude, Jesus said, “You feed them.” They then protested that it would cost all this money to feed them. Jesus simply replied, “How many loaves do you have?”

The ministry we do as Christians starts in our own neighborhood. If you can’t take your block for Jesus, how are you going to take a nation?

Evangelists and missionaries start in their grocery store, in the restaurant you have dinner with your family, at your local bar. These are the ones that need to know who Jesus is.

And you don’t have to preach for them. Jesus said, “They shall know you by your love.” After you’ve spent months or even a couple of years sowing into the lives of those around you, you can tell them anything you want about Jesus and they will lap it up like a sponge because for the first time in their lives, they’ve seen real fruit about what being a servant of the Lord really means.

Your home is a beacon of light in your neighborhood. Your neighbors see lots of their friends go to church and that means nothing to them. Be salt and light to them and your world will begin to change.

After you’ve taken your neighborhood, then you’re ready to start taking the nations for Jesus.

“The first said, ‘Master, I doubled your money.’ “He said, ‘Good servant! Great work! Because you’ve been trustworthy in this small job, I’m making you governor of ten towns.’”

Luke 19:16-17

Rock Music

You always know when God is speaking to you about something. This week, the Lord has been speaking to me about rocks of all things. This morning, the Lord sent me to a church called Quest Community Church here in Lexington and guess what they were talking about? Rocks.

When the Babylonians built the tower of Babel, they used bricks made by man. When God built his temple, he built it out of stone.

It’s a real problem building stuff out of stone. Bricks are neat and easy to work with because they’re all the same size and shape. It’s easy to figure out how to put them all together because they fit like building blocks.

Stones, on the other hand, are messy. If you were to take 1,000 rocks out of a creek, each would be a different size and shape. Their chemical makeup will even be a little different from rock to rock, each one completely unique.

No wonder the Babylonians used bricks. What a mess building a house out of these messy shapes that are difficult to fit together. It’s more like putting together a jigsaw puzzle than it is constructing a neat building.

And yet, we are the living stones that God has chosen to build his house with. Not only that, but we don’t even start out as stones.

Peter was first called Simon, which means “Wishy-washy.” Then the Lord called him Petros, which means, despite our thinking, a stone easily detached and disposed of—a pebble. But Peter was called Simon Peter throughout the scriptures, meaning, literally, “wishy-washy rock.” It’s not until Acts that the Simon is dropped and he becomes Peter. Then later in Paul’s writings he is referred to as Cephas, meaning, “the head.”

So, a rock is something we become, and we can’t do that until we are placed by the Lord. We don’t always like the place God puts us, and it probably won’t be comfortable, but through faith, we understand that that place is according to God’s plan and he alone knows what the house is going to look like.

As if all this weren’t bad enough, when Solomon constructed the temple, he built it out of stone. He then covered the stone entirely in wood. Wood is the nature of man. The stone is our perfected state in the body, but it’s always covered with our imperfections.

God, for whatever reason, insists on using us. He could use angels to send his message, but he, instead, sends us, with all our imperfections, to be his representation in the earth.

I’m sitting here looking at the rock that was given to me this morning. It is worn smooth from years of being in rough water. I understand what that feels like. It is also jagged on one side where it has been broken. All of us, in our imperfect state have been broken. As I hold this rock, I rub across the jagged edge knowing that if I keep this up long enough, the jaggedness will disappear and it will be smooth like the rest.

There’s something else about this rock. It is small. In our culture, we build foundations for a house using concrete. To us, a boulder is not very useful. What we need to pour a concrete foundation is a bunch of these tiny pebbles all ready to be mixed together to be a part of the house God wants to build on the earth.

I do not desire to have a huge church with hundreds or even thousands of people. All I want to be is this “very small” pebble that is useful to be in the foundation of the Lord.

This rock, from now on, will sit on my desk. Whenever I start to think too highly of myself, I will pick it up and rub my fingers across the rough side. All of us need a little smoothing. All of us need to remember that we’re only created to be a small part of the huge house God is building in the earth.

If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.

Luke 19:40