Counter-Cultural Love

{Pastor Josh’s note:  Our co-leaders of Seeds of Hope, Gary Dosdall and Keri Buisman, are bringing their testimonies to Family of Christ during worship services this month.  Our Pondering for this week is Gary’s recent message, letting us all know of the important ministry and work we have with our partners in El Salvador.}  

Wendell Berry, a farmer, essayist, author and poet, wrote a poem titled Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.  In it he challenges us to do the counter-cultural, the unexpected, to in his words …  “everyday do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing.” He calls this practicing resurrection. For me, this poem brings greater understanding of the Good Samaritan story and the verses that precede it. These are my favorite verses and are central to my faith.  

Gary with one of the Seeds of Hope Scholarship Recipents

In the verses immediately preceding the Good Samaritan story, an attorney testing Jesus asks, “which is the most important commandment?” Jesus answers, to love the Lord and without taking a breath he adds to love your neighbor. Surprisingly the follow up story isn’t about loving the Lord, it is the story of the Good Samaritan and is about loving our neighbor and it challenges us to expand our understanding of who our neighbor is. Back in biblical times the phrase Good Samaritan would have been an oxymoron to Jesus’ audience. So the idea that a Samaritan was my neighbor and deserved my love and respect was certainly counter-cultural, unexpected and didn’t compute. And the thought that a Samaritan could be a better neighbor than me, represented by the other two that walked by the victim first, was unthinkable.  

There is so much that can be unpacked from these verses. Even when we so boldly pray that we do God’s will, these verses tell us what his will for us is, at least on a macro level. We are to love our neighbors, and be very generous with who we identify as our neighbors.  Jesus is asked a straight forward question and he gave us a straight forward answer along with some Cliff Notes so we wouldn’t miss the point.   Salvadorans in general and children in particular are vulnerable and can use our help. The population we assist lives in extreme poverty, under a constant threat of violence, and have few if any opportunities. It would be very easy to look right past or right through them or cross the road to avoid them, but Jesus has challenged us and has clearly told us what is most important.  

The problems of El Salvador are many and we cannot solve them all in short order, so we have chosen to play the long game: to help the Salvadoran children get a better education. One by one improving a life, and then maybe a family, then maybe a community and then… who knows.   Who would have thought that 2000 years after Jesus had this exchange that loving our neighbor would still be so counter-cultural, unexpected and something that doesn’t compute? 

So, I invite you to do the counter-cultural. Love the Lord and love/sponsor a student. The Seeds of Hope Program is our opportunity to do God’s will, to practice what Jesus is trying to teach us and to practice resurrection.       

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–Gary Dosdall

Categories: Ponderings