Practical Religion

March 29, 2021

Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26″What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27He answered: ” ‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Practical Religion

                Most of us are quite familiar with the story of the “Good Samaritan”.  The Lord began to convict me this morning that what you know and what you practice can be two totally different things.  When we stand before God we won’t be judged for what we knew, but what we did with what we knew.  This story brings this point home when it talks about how the priest and the Levi both saw the man’s plight, crossed over to the other side of the road and passed him by.  These were representatives of the most knowledgeable, pious and masters in religious and godly matters.  Was their knowledge translated into practical application?  No, they, like many of us don’t have time, don’t want to get involved, don’t want to get our hands dirty or don’t consider it our responsibility.  Yet Jesus demonstrates a man that they despise as a heathen and half-breed coming along and giving of himself, his time and personal resources to care for a man that probably wouldn’t have given him the time of day, because he was a Samaritan and despised by the Jews. 

                True religion is practical religion.  James 1:27 says this, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  Doesn’t it strike us as strange that he doesn’t say it is how many times you go to church or how long you read your bible or pray?  It is in the doing.  Often God imparts much to us, but we are like a stream that has become dammed up.  We don’t allow the life of God to flow through us.  We hoard it up unto ourselves so that we can appear religious and pious.  As a result we stagnate spiritually and really benefit no one else but ourselves. 

                I remember a friend telling me his testimony of how he came to the Lord.  He said he was either building or remodeling his house and he had a friend at work that would talk to him about the Lord.  He said what really made the difference for him is when this friend took his personal vacation to come and help my friend to fix his house.  That practical application told him that this Jesus was more than just mere words and an ideology; He was practical love expressed through this man that sacrificed to help him.  That is how our world will know and embrace Christ, when they see the reality of His love expressed in ways that are not natural or normal.  If actions speak louder than words then Christ is amplified and magnified as we live and walk our talk. 

                There are basically two directions that our faith must express itself.  The first is upward in our personal relationship and obedience to God the Father and our trust in Jesus Christ.  The second is in the expression of what we receive in that vertical relationship and then in stretching out our arms to those around us.  This is what Jesus did when He hung on a cross.  His vertical obedience and relationship with the Father expressed itself in His outstretched arms to all of humanity.  He became the intersection where we could turn the corner on our lives and head in a heavenly direction back to the heart of the Father.  We also find that in our identification with Jesus, we also must lay down our lives for others.  Those others, often might be the people we would least care to serve or love in the natural, but then truly loving your neighbor is a God expression and not just a human one.

                How practical is our religion?  Does it really express who we are in Christ or just what we know about Him?

Blessings,

#kent

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