More than Knowledge and Faith

Reading: Luke 10.25-37
There is something very cold and hard about our modern society. In some ways we know so much; in other more important ways we seem to be dunces. The famous US General, Omar Bradley once observed, "We are nuclear giants, but ethical infants".

On 21st July 1969, Armstrong made his "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" onto the surface of the Moon. At that time, back in USA there were racial riots. What will following generations remember of our age? Will it be the brilliant scientific and technological achievements, or the failures in the area of personal and group relationships and the breakdown of morality?

Paul wrote, "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13.2).

He was writing to people who believed themselves to be more than intellectually clever. They understood everything about God and his ways (so they thought). And they were full of self-confident assurance about their wonderful faith. Yet they lacked love, and, without love, their other claims meant nothing.

The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37) was told by Jesus to a man well-versed in all the teachings and requirements of the Jewish law. This man knew that God required his love - that he should love God with all he had and that he should also love his neighbour as himself. But "who is my neighbour?"

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was dangerous - a descent of 1040 metres in about 27 kilometres through desert country, no villages, an abundance of caves and rocky ledges. Right up to recent times robbers have made travel in this region hazardous. So it happened that yet another unfortunate victim was left half-dead by the roadside.

The first two to come upon the ugly scene, a priest and a Levite, kept going, fearing for their own safety. The third, a Samaritan, member of a race with whom the Jews would have no dealings (John 4.9), at risk of his own safety and at his own personal expense, stopped and cared for him.

So Jesus returned the question to the questioner, yet he changed it significantly - "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" (v. 36). Jesus had been asked, in effect, "Define neighbour for me so that I may better understand whom God expects me to love", but Jesus changed the question to "Who needs my love?"

Not only did the questioner know so much - so did the priest and the Levite! But to know so much and yet not to have love is to be nothing!

The tragedy of our world is that we have knowledge and insight into so many fields - yet without love.

We cannot see beyond our own needs. Prices and wages continue to spiral. We pollute the very environment in which we live. We wrench from the earth for selfish ends the precious resources entrusted to us by our Maker. Many people are feeling that they aren't people any more, that they just don't count any more There is an accelerating call for psychiatric help, Life Line counselling, drug clinics and the like, because we have so much - without love.

Of course, God wants us to be about our particular tasks with the best available knowledge and skills - but with love. We need this essential ingredient, both for our own wholeness, and for the healing of others and our world.

PRAYER: Creator God, you have made this world and said that it is good. Thank you for every true advance of human knowledge. Forgive us, O Lord, our failure to see that, with all this knowledge, we need you no less. Help me to be your person so that the things I know may by used in love. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Thoughts on Apollo 11, 21st July 1969

(dedicated to the Rangeville Space Pilots' Club)

From Earth to Moon! How wonderful!
Dear God, your laws are true!
And yet, we try to live on earth
As if we don't need you!

We know the laws of motion,
Of gravity and the like,
And forget the Ten Commandments
And all the laws on life!

We thank you, God, that Jesus came
To bring us back to you
That we may know in everything,
Dear God, your laws are true!

© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin Blue Care devotions, 2000
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, © International Bible Society, 1984.

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