During the next three weeks our lessons will touch on being a neighbor. Paul declares that in Christ Jesus we are free of obeying laws and rules (Galatians 5:1,13-25). But, he warns, don’t let your freedom as an excuse for allowing your corrupt nature to take over. Rather, use our freedom to be expressed in love for each other. “But if you bite and attack each other, be careful that you don’t destroy each other.” The of giving into our desires is hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, conflict and factions, and things like that.”
In the Gospel lesson (Luke 9:51-62) Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem where he will prove to be everyone’s neighbor on the cross. He and his disciples were traveling through Samaria where a village refused to welcome them. No love was lost between Jews and Samaritans.
Letting their corrupt nature win the day, two of Jesus disciples, the brothers James and John, volunteer to pray that fire come down and burn up the village. They did not regard Samaritans as neighbors. Thankfully, Jesus turned and corrected them.
Therefore, we prayed this weekend, “Lord of all power might.’ God could have granted the brothers venge-filled prayer. But God is “the author and giver of all good things.” The good thing we asked for was that God would “graft into our hearts the love of your name and nourish us with all your goodness so that we may be enabled to love and serve our neighbor.” In Jesus view, our neighborly love is not only for one another in the church, but also for those we think deserve a bit of fire from heaven.
That love must be grafted into our hearts. That is done “through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.”