If the Gospel of Luke is a handbook on discipleship, then Christian behavior should tear down human barriers. After all, Jesus blazed this trail as through word and deed he revolutionized social norms by dismantling its boundaries. When people are willing to walk in his steps, his principles continue to transform social perception, values and behavior. Here are two examples how his kingdom principles alter daily living.
My Circle of Friends. It is not possible to share the same type of relationship with a thousand acquaintances as we enjoy with half a dozen close friends. Jesus also seems to have had varying degrees of relationship. He invited Peter, James and John to join him for special moments. Beyond these three friends were the twelve, then the seventy (or seventy-two) and so forth.
Yet, Jesus’ teachings seek to transform a common aspect of friendship. People typically draw a line around their family and close circle of friends. They are more likely to share their resources with those within this circle, than with those outside of it.
Jesus’ call to kingdom living entails inviting us to dissolve those boundaries limiting who we will help. Jesus’ lifestyle does not restrict sharing and giving to our close circle of friends.
- “Give to everyone who asks you … love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people.” Luke 6:30,32,35
- “When you host a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors so you can be invited by them in return and get repaid. But when you host an elaborate meal, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14
The Untouchables. In America we do not live in a stringent social caste system such as India possesses. However, barriers still loom. The untouchables live not far away, especially within cities.
Untouchables are those kept at arms length. They are those people who are discredited and considered unworthy. They are those who would be viewed as contaminating or polluting a social event. In Jesus’ day, religious people held at arms length those with sinful reputations.
People do make bad choices. However, even when people had chosen sinful ways, Jesus still rubbed shoulders with them and ate with them. He touched those regarded as unclean because he sought to welcome them into God’s kingdom ways. Furthermore, he worked hard to help pious society adopt God’s compassionate perspective regarding the lost.
- “And when the people saw it, they all complained, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’” Luke 19:7 Jesus explained his motivation as, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Luke 19:10
- “Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear him. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So Jesus told them this parable …” Luke 15:1-3 Actually, Jesus told three parables about God loving sinners and heaven erupting with joy when the lost repent.
Jesus exemplified the ways of God’s kingdom. Disciples are to emulate Christ. When we reflect the values and goals of God, we look like the kingdom of God.