Jesus Is The Samaritan (Samaritan Study Pt 3)

I’ve been sharing a series here on the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It’s a well known story that we typically think of as a call to be a good person to others.  In the first post I shared that I’m not so sure that is what the parable is actually about.  In the second I asked us to think about why we don’t stop – why we pass by someone we should help.  Today, I want to look at the whole thing completely differently and most likely in a way you’ve never thought about it before. I certainly had never thought about it this way before in my 30 years of knowing and sharing this story.

Many of the early Church Fathers from the first 300 years or so of Christianity saw this story in a different way.  They saw it as having something to say about the story of the gospel and Christ.

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You Are Not The Samaritan (Samaritan Study Pt 1)

I’ve decided to start a weekly look at scripture, or bible study here at the blog.  For the next five weeks I’d like to take a look at one of the most recognized parables of Jesus.  The parable of the good samaritan.

Jesus tells the parable in Luke 10:25-37.  Here is a brief rundown:

A religious lawyer comes to Jesus and asks what must he do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus replies by asking the teacher what the scriptures say.  He replies  that with the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind (in other words make God number one) and love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus agrees and says go and do this, and you will have eternal life.

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Is Being Virtuous Attractive

One of the questions that comes up in different ways is as follows:  Is being a virtuous man attractive to women?

Before I answer that let’s clear up a few things.

First of all it should be noted that attractiveness itself is not a virtue.  Being attractive to women is not a virtue.  Being “hot” is not a virtue.  There are plenty of non-virtuous men who are attractive to women.  We see this all the time.  Heck a common complaint is that women are attracted to the “bad boys”.  It’s a common complaint because it’s often true.

There are men who don’t treat women well who are attractive to women.  There are men who are mean and insensitive who are attractive to women. There are men who live dangerously in one form or another who are attractive to women.

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Your Money And Dating (Plus Bonus Material)

The other day I was happened on a video win which Dave Ramsey was talking with Anthony ONeal about a recent dating experience he had.  First a quick background in case you are not familiar with Ramsey and his people.  The short version is that they help people get out of and stay out of debt.  Anthony works with younger folks and is a young single man.  One of the keys to getting and staying out of debt is having a budget . . . that you actually follow.  I’ve talked before about as a single person having a “dating” line item in your budget.  Suffice it to say that if you are single and want to date, then why not have a budget for that.

At any rate, here’s the story.  Anthony goes out with a young woman on a date.  They have a good time.  At the end of the date they both want there to be a second date.  The woman suggested that she would really like to go to a particular restaurant in town. Anthony says he will look into it.

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Lies Single Christians Believe

The last couple of blogs I’ve been writing about the idea of not lying.  It’s funny even to type that.  But as we’ve been discussing, this is not always as simple as it seems. We’ve talked about not lying to ourselves, not lying to others, and not lying to other singles.

In the world of Christian singleness there are a ton of lies.  There are lies that the church has told singles, lies the enemy has told singles, lies that singles tell themselves, and lies that our current culture tells them.  I’ve written a lot about these over the years.  Rather than try to sum up that many posts in one new one I’m going to just list some and link to places where I’ve tried to be more honest and straightforward with the truth.  The list is not exhaustive and in fact if you think of more put it in the comments.  I’d love to see what I’m missing.  So here we go.  Lies singles have been told, thought and/or believed:

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Stop Lying To Others

In my last post I tried to set up some thoughts about lying.  Toward the end of that post, I talked about two people that I know we often lie to: God and ourselves.  Today I want to think about how we lie to others and how to stop doing that.

Before I dive in, let me talk about a couple of reasons this is important.  First, it’s important because lying is a sin.  Thou shalt not lie is one of the ten commandments.  The second thing is that while lying to someone may seem like it helps us in that circumstance it almost always backfires in some way.  But even if it doesn’t seem to it does at least two things.  It erodes trust and it impacts my ability to love that person – because I’ll know I lied to them – even if they never know it.

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What If You Stopped Lying

This last year I read a book by Jordan Peterson called “The 12 Rules For Life”.  It’s an interesting read on many levels but one of the rules that he espouses has really stuck with me.  That is: Always Tell The Truth Or At Least Don’t Lie.

I think that this rule or idea has enormous implications.  For everyone in every context.

Now, it seems simple enough.  After all as a Christian am I not to always be honest as it were?  Well yes.  In fact “don’t lie” is one of the ten commandments.  It’s one of the basic rules for almost any moral code, scriptural or otherwise.  But for something so simple we aren’t very good at it.

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Singleness During COVID

We are obviously in an unprecedented time right now.  We have a pandemic striking the world, and in response we have asked most people to stay at home.

To be sure this is a strain on everyone in every marital context.  This is not to mention that there are some people in horrible situations.  I think of kids who live in abusive homes or those that don’t have enough to eat.  People who had enough to eat three weeks ago and now don’t. There are those who struggle with addiction, those who were struggling with mental illness before this all started.

But I want to acknowledge a particular group here today.  Not because they are the only ones suffering, but because their suffering is surely different and I’ve not seen it talked about much anywhere.  That is those that are single and live alone.

Now there are all kinds of unmarried people.  Many live with friends.  Some are in cohabitation arrangements.  Some who maybe live with their parents.  But I want to specifically address those who live by themselves.

I was single until I was nearly 41 years old.  Mostly I lived with friends or for a short time had renters in the house I owned.  I’m an extravert and I learned from six months of living by myself that it was an unhealthy setting for me.

25%-28% of Americans live alone.  If nearly 50% of Americans are unmarried that means that about half of unmarried people live alone.  This includes all versions of unmarried that we’ve talked about here over the years.  Not yet married.  Divorced.  Widowed.  Those who are called to Celibacy for the Kingdom.  Those celibate because of the fall of man. Those born in a way that keeps them from getting married.

Let’s remember that no one, even those called to Celibacy for the Kingdom, are called to live their life alone.  And yet there are millions of them doing that exact thing right now.

I’ve debated whether or not to write this post.  Not because I don’t think it’s important, but because what unmarried folks are facing right now I never had to face in my 23 years of adult singleness.  Almost everything on this blog about singleness I’ve written either from personal experience or from the study of the scriptures, church history and other studies. This is different.  So I can’t write with the same authority that I normally do.

However, it needs to be talked about.

First we should acknowledge that it’s hard.  And that would be my first piece of advice to everyone unmarried and married.  To recognize the unique challenges that this context confronts unmarried folks with.

I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting that married folks should feel especially sorry for single people.  But I think it might be good to be aware that they aren’t experiencing this the same way you are.

Church leaders often seem to forget the unmarried.  We’ve discussed this ad nasuem on this blog.  There are churches doing great things right now. Helping with the poor.  Helping provide food for kids.  Doing online things not just on Sunday but every day.  I applaud so much of the effort.  I’m asking you, regardless of how your church views singleness: Please remember your single members right now.  They could probably use a phone call, text, email or whatever.  Simply acknowledging and checking in would be appreciated by many I would think.  There are some who are fine.  But there are some who could use a live voice.

If I go on facebook right now I see all the families on bike rides, in the yard together, taking porchtraits.  Nothing wrong with that.  But if I were single and wishing I was married, this would make even more aware than usual that I’m alone.  I couldn’t go out with friends.  I couldn’t see my co workers.  I couldn’t even sit next to some people at church.

Here are a few thoughts if you are home alone as an unmarried person right now. Remember I’m not speaking with the authority of having lived it here, just offering some things that might help based on 23 years of unmarried life.

  • Give yourself the freedom to feel what you feel.  You’re not bad because the porchtraits make you feel more alone.  You aren’t a bad Christian because Jesus doesn’t seem like enough right now.  Acknowledge your feelings and emotions. Don’t just tough it out.  And for sure don’t condemn yourself for thinking it.  Give yourself grace.
  • Fight to engage others.  If someone does reach out to you, take advantage of it. Use all the technology you have.  Reach out to others.
  • If helping others and ministering to others typically energizes you, do it now. Leadership is lonely but it’s less lonely than sitting there missing leadership.
  • Engage your mind.  Study something.  Read something.  Learn something.  Fight the urge to dwell on darkness.
  • Know your weaknesses.  There is a reason porn sites are offering specials right now. Liquor stores are essential apparently.  Do you already struggle with depression or other mental illnesses.  Don’t pretend right now.  Don’t just sit there and get crushed.  Acknowledge these things
  • Get help with the above if you need it.  Call someone.  Anyone.  Tell someone.  Don’t suffer in silence.
  • To that end, hold onto the truth.  The people that love you and usually hang out with you still love you.  Maybe they haven’t called.  I wish they would have.  But everyone is in free fall in some way right now.  Just because they haven’t called you, doesn’t mean they don’t care.
  • Hold on to the truths of our faith.  You are not alone.  You really can take it to Jesus. He suffered alone.  In front of people, but alone.  In a way only He could.  He sees you!  Please read that again.  Jesus sees you!

Really I hope that if this post does one thing it is that it communicates that.  Jesus sees you.  I see you.  I’m writing this mainly so you know you’re seen.

If any of you who are reading this have thoughts about how you are managing that might be helpful to others, leave a comment.  You’re the expert here.  What has been helpful for you?  What would be helpful to you?

Cohabitation Is Not God’s Plan

One of the problems in our culture when it comes to singleness is that the word single is too broad.  It means far too many things.  As I’ve stated before here, this is especially a problem in Christian culture because there are varying scriptural instructions for different groups of unmarried people.  There are at least the following biblical examples of marital status: The married, the divorced, the widowed, those not yet married, those celibate by birth, those celibate because of the fall of man and those who are called and choose Celibacy for the Kingdom.  Needless to say, all of these are different.

But in our culture we have added a group that amazingly I’ve never directly addressed here at the blog.  That is those couples that live in cohabitation.

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Meekness Vs Weakness

Recently I’ve been thinking some about virtue.  That is, what is virtuous and what isn’t.  For example, I’ve written about how being “nice” is not a virtue while being good is. All of this may seem like semantics or splitting hairs but it’s more than that.  How we view these things impacts how we live our lives.  It impacts how we view ourselves and our context, including if our context happens to be singleness.  I want to tackle a few more of these thoughts in the context of singleness.

Today I want to talk bout the idea of meekness.  Meekness is indeed a virtue.  So much so in fact that Jesus says in Matthew 5 that the meek shall inherit the earth.  But we are very confused in our culture, even in our Christian culture, about what meekness is.

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