Welcome to the, February 22 newsletter.
Some of you may have noticed that the CARM discussion boards crashed this weekend. It happened at a very inconvenient time because in our new home, the company that leveled our yard, accidentally snapped our Internet connection cable. I was without Internet access for three days. For most of you that probably is not a big deal but for someone like me the withdrawals were horrible. My wife had to use ice packs on my head, talk calmly to me, play soothing music in the background, and tell me that everything was going to be OK. I don't how I made it, but I was able to get through a whole three day weekend without the Internet. Of course, I do not want you think I'm addicted to it or anything because I could quit any time I wanted to.
Anyway, back to the discussion board issue. The CARM discussion boards (http://new.carmforums.org/dc/dcboard.php) get around 40,000 to 50,000 page views every day. That is a lot of activity. Add to that that we almost have 6000 registered users and you can imagine how busy the board scripts are. Well, it looks like the boards just had enough and crashed. But, by God's grace a friend of mine named Chad was able to do some high-tech, database fixing. He had the boards up and running in about an hour. He's a humble man and gave the glory to God.
Just for contrast
A couple of months ago I mentioned that I am leading a home church. It is small, about 20 people, but we are enjoying the fellowship immensely. There are three families, mine included, and there are some airmen from the local Air Force Base who also attend. It works out great because they do the music which, I might add, is very good. The praise songs are wonderful. So, if you're ever in the Boise, Idaho area on a Sunday morning and you would like to attend our small service, then please let me know in advance. We would love to have you.
That reminds me. This weekend at around 7 p.m. I received a phone call from a friend of mine named Doug who lives in Reno, California. He and his wife have been thinking about relocating and Boise is on their list of places to check out. Anyway, he called me and said that he wanted to drive up from Reno (about a 7 hour drive) spend the night and attend the church service. I told him to come on up. He did the and he went to the service with us. He told me that he really liked the warmness and the fellowship in the group. He also said he liked the Boise area. This isn't a big deal, but it does mean that we have had someone travel almost 500 miles to come to our little fellowship. :)
In the parable, a man is attacked by robbers, beaten to unconsciousness, and stripped naked. This means that he is not identifiable by his dialect or his clothing. He could could be anybody.
A priest and a Levite both pass and avoid the injured man. A priest was in the upper class and was probably riding an animal. He was coming down from Jerusalem to Jericho which probably meant that he had finished his two weeks duty in the temple. He was ceremonially clean and did not want to approach a possible dead body. If he did, this would mean he was unclean and would have to go through a long cleansing process, that was expensive and by which he might be thoroughly embarrassed in his community.
A Levite was supposed to assist the priests and their duties in the temple. This means that the Levite was also very familiar with the cleanliness laws of the Old Testament.
But, as you know, a Samaritan passes by. A Samaritan is a descendent of the Jewish people who were taken into captivity approximately 600 years earlier and interbred with the Samarians. Because of this, the Jews were very very prejudiced against the Samaritans (see John 4:9 and 8:48-49). Nevertheless, the Samaritans were under the same laws of cleanliness as were the Jews. So, this Samaritan, this hated individual, passes by and sees the injured man. He risks ritual defilement and takes care of the injured man, taking him to an inn, promising to return and pay any debt incurred for hi care.
Jesus asked the lawyer who was a neighbor to the wounded man. The reply was the Samaritan. Jesus then says go and do the same.
We know that as Christians we are to be loving to all people whether or not they are our immediate neighbor, or a foreigner. This parable of Jesus is a message about the importance of treating all people with love and compassion, no matter who they are. But there is something else. The parable forces us to examine our own hearts.
Which one are you? Are you the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan? Please think about it. It is easy to say that we are going to help an injured person while we are sitting in a chair reading an e-mail about helping someone. It is quite another thing to actually do it when there is inconvenience and risk involved.
It was inconvenient for the Samaritan to change his plans in order to take care of another person. But it was also very risky. You see, in that time there was a problem of what has been called "blood revenge." Blood revenge is the cultural phenomenon where retribution is taken upon someone for harming another. Let me illustrate. If two men were in a fight and one of them injured the other, the family of the injured party would sometimes gang up on the first man and injure him even more. Then, his family would then take retribution on the other family. The problem was the escalation of violence would become a very great, sometimes leading to death.
What does this mean for the Samaritan? It means that he is risking the retribution of an irrational family member or members who might find him, a hated Samaritan, with their injured sibling. In the irrationality of hatred, violence often follows. Yet, the Samaritan does the right thing anyway.
The Samaritan is a true neighbor who risks his comfort and safety for someone else. This is one of the points of the parable. It forces us to examine ourselves not only in understanding who are neighbor is, but also in how and to what extent we should be willing to invest in the welfare of someone else that we may or may not even care about.
Jesus is like the Samaritan in that He is the one who is seeking the injured, the ones in need of salvation, of healing, and of cleansing. Jesus took great risk and lost His life for us. He is the true example of what it means to love another. Shouldn't we do the same?