On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He 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.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." (Luke 10:25-28 NIV)
The expert of the law should have stopped right there. He and Jesus were "in sync" with one another - or at least it seemed that way on the surface. The problem, though, was that the expert of the law has a person or group of people he really didn't want to love. I can't blame him. You and I, if we really think about it, probably have people in our lives or people in this world in general that we really don't want to love. So, the expert asked Jesus another question.
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29 NIV)
What he was really asking was this: "Can you put the unlovable people in my life into a category so that I can feel better about not loving them?" Jesus, of course, wouldn't have any part of it. Instead, he told the expert a parable.
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii 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.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:30-37 NIV)
How about you? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Do you love the people in your life that you really don't want to love? Do you make the choice to love?