People are messy. I’m messy. You’re messy. Life is messy. And there are times that just seem to feel messier than others...
Thankfully, we have a God who specializes in messy.
Luke 10:25-37 25 tells us that “One day an expert on Moses’ laws came to test Jesus’ orthodoxy by asking him this question: “Teacher, what does a man need to do to live forever in heaven?” Jesus replied, “What does Moses’ law say about it?” “It says,” he replied, “that you must 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 you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself.” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you shall live!” The man wanted to justify his lack of love for some kinds of people, so he asked, “Which neighbors?” Jesus replied with an illustration: “A Jew going on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, and beat him up and left him lying half dead beside the road. “By chance a Jewish priest came along; and when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Jewish Temple-assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but then went on. “But a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw him, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his donkey and walked along beside him till they came to an inn, where he nursed him through the night. The next day he handed the innkeeper two twenty-dollar bills and told him to take care of the man. ‘If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, ‘I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the bandits’ victim?” The man replied, “The one who showed him some pity.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
If we were honest, we would probably agree that we try to avoid messy. Especially messy people. The addicts. The compulsive liars. The cheaters. The abusers. Could someone please just make them all go away? Away from us anyway. I’m not an expert here, but I think it’s a probably a natural tendency not to want to get involved with those deemed “messier” than you. I mean really...heaven forbid they find out how messy we really are. Just let them keep thinking we have it all together. So for the sake of self preservation, we just walk on trying to avoid the messy at all cost.
Unfortunately, as believers I don’t think that’s what God desires from us. Friends, just like the good Samaritan, we are called to get involved with the messy.
As I look around today I see many “Temple priests and assistants” looking but not helping. That's us by the way. We can see the bumps and the bruises of those messier than us and we don’t either have the time nor the desire to “kneel” down and do our part to “soothe” their wounds. We serve in churches and minister from from pulpits, but as soon as someone begins to show their messiness, we will often cross over to the other side. “Let someone else take care of them” our actions seem to say. “I don’t want to get messy....”.
The story in Luke lets us know that it is going to cost us personally to help the messy. It will cost us our time by kneeling down and bandaging up the broken. It could cost us our reputation by others knowing we are spending time with the messy. “Doesn’t she know what that person DID?” “Doesn’t she know who that person hangs out with and where they go?” Friends, it may even cost us our financial resources. When is the last time we spent our money on investing in the messy? Bought them a helpful book? A meal? A motel stay? You see, when we invest our financial resources, there’s a piece of us that just took a little personal responsibility for helping that messy get a little cleaner. And considering the cost Jesus paid to redeem our messy lives, I can’t think of anything more divine.
Isaiah 1:18 says “Come, let’s talk this over, says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!”
Friends, We are all messy. There aren’t any of us who are going to get through this life spotless. That’s why we need Jesus. And each other. It’s also why we need to follow His example in showing His love and mercy to those messy people around us. If we're going to be despised like the Samaritan, let it be for doing what Jesus told us to do. In His words, “ “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Love - Jayne