A Word for this Week - Pastor Bill Mugnolo

Week of July 15-21, 2019: “Religious People, Messed Up People” … Luke 10:25-37

I recently came across a Facebook post that read, “I’d rather attend Church with messed up people who love God than with religious people who dislike messed up people”. I believe that this post is worth looking into further in connection with Our Lord’s well-known Parable of the Good Samaritan.

First, an expert in the Jewish law—a very religious man—asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life (as if we ever needed to somehow “earn” an inheritance). Having pointed to the two great commandments of the Law (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18) concerning loving both God and our neighbor, Jesus then told the man, “Do this, and you shall live.” But perhaps seeing how broad these commandments truly were, the lawyer tried to “cut them down to size” when he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus then told one of his parable stories about a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho who was beaten by robbers and left half-dead. Two very “religious” people—a priest and a Levite—refused to help this wounded man. But a half-Jewish, half-pagan Samaritan—from a race despised by the Jews—gave this man life saving help. Having told the parable, Jesus then asked the lawyer which of the three men had been a neighbor to the wounded man. The lawyer, refusing to say that it was “the Samaritan”, said that it was “the one who showed him mercy.” To this, Jesus said to the lawyer, “Go and do likewise.”

So it would seem that Jesus famed parable has proven the above Facebook post to be correct. But there’s more for us to consider—for God doesn’t leave us “messed up”. Had Jesus encountered a real-life Good Samaritan, a time may well have come when He would have said to him, “You need to deal with your pagan religious practices and, at long last, put them aside.” So too it is to be with us as, to put it in an expression that long predates Facebook, “God accepts us for who we are, but He doesn’t leave us that way.”

Yes, if we “messed up people” truly loved God we would lovingly submit to Him and His ongoing efforts towards our “cleaning up our act.” To this end, He continually pours into our wounded selves the “oil and wine” of His forgiveness and love so that we would be cared for all the way up until the day of His return.


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