Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Eighteen, Tuesday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 10: 25-37

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is follow-up to a conversation Jesus was having with an “expert” of the law, one of those leader types who were know-it-alls during the time of Christ. The “expert” is asking Jesus to defend two questions: What must I do to inherit eternal life? And, who is my neighbor?  The first question is about the message of Jesus and the second probes the mission and ministry of Jesus.

To the first question, Jesus replies by affirming the “experts” own answer to the question by his stating the greatest and second greatest commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” But, to the second question, Jesus backs him up against a wall of conviction with his parable.

The parable is pretty simple. It’s about a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he is stopped in his tracks by a band of robbers. They strip him of his clothing, beat him, and then leave him half dead in the middle of the road. Then, there are three individuals who come upon the stricken man in the road and are confronted with a choice: do I help him or leave him to die? First, a priest happens upon him, but he passes by and walks around on the other side of the road. Secondly, a Levite comes toward him, and after seeing him lying in the road, also passes him on the opposite side of the road.

A third traveler, this time a Samaritan (often hated by the Jews, who would bristle at one being portrayed in a positive light), comes upon the man and took pity on him. He bandages his wounds, puts him on his donkey, takes him to an inn, pays for his care, leaves him in good hands, and even follows up on his needs during his return trip home. So, when Jesus asks the know-it-all to acknowledge which character in the story most depicts a loving neighbor, he’s forced to answer “the one who had mercy.”

Mercy is the big idea in this parable. Jesus is filled with mercy. The Samaritan is filled with mercy.  All who love the Lord with heart, soul, strength and mind are to be filled with mercy toward their neighbor. Jesus’ outstretched arms of love are demonstrated through the gift of mercy.  Mercy’s best descriptors are compassion, kindness, forgiveness, forbearance, favor, charity and blessing. Mercy is most extended toward those who don’t deserve it, but who are in desperate need of it.  To be merciful is to be willing to extend an embrace of love even when it’s inconvenient to do so.

To love God is to love mercy. For when we were most desperate we received mercy. Behold God’s merciful kindness; believe the transformational gospel of mercy; belong to those who are willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of mercy; and become a Jesus-follower who’s a repository of mercy.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.