RIVALRY OR RECONCILIATION
Jacob wrestles with God in the moonlight and walks away from the encounter with a limp and a blessing. The next day, he comes face to face with the man he has feared for years his twin brother. The years of grasping only for his own benefit have left him estranged from God and Esau. But now God has renamed him and Esau has embraced him. He can say: "In your face, I have seen the face of God!" (Genesis 32 & 33)
Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, and so many more people and stories in scripture remind us of how often we see the world as a place of conflict and rivalry. But Jesus takes these ancient and all-too-real rivalries and sets before us the idea of neighbor. A lawyer asks for Jesus' take on living life fully. They agree that loving God and loving neighbor are at the heart of faith and life. But the lawyer asks "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus tells a story. We call it the story of the "Good Samaritan." (Luke 10:25-37)
As we near the close of a deeply fractious political season, we have witnessed deep rivalry and conflict. Many of us are worried, anxious, and fearful of what may happen in the coming days, weeks, and months as votes are tallied and winners and losers are declared. How can opponents come together after harsh and negative campaigning? How can we be neighbors even when we disagree?
Last Sunday I offered my take on a voter guide' based on the story of Jacob and the Samaritan. As we prepare to vote:
1. Do not be afraid. Do not let the tactics of fear and separation guide your vote. That person we fear may show us the face of God.
2. God loves youâ€¦ And God loves your neighbor, too! Jesus is not just offering sweet platitudes about being nice. The story we call the Good Samaritan is at the heart of the gospel message of reconciliation.
3. That person you dislike, distrust the most is created in the image of God. And the person most in need is also in the image of God. We are neighbors, not because we agree on everything, but because we reflect God's image.
We can choose to live our lives in rivalry or reconciliation. That is the real choice before us.