What must I do to inherit eternal life?
A simple enough question, but one full of danger. What can we really do to inherit eternal life? Nothing. God's Son, Jesus, gave his life so that we might live. We have each been given a gift. What is the normal response when you get a gift?
Right, to say thank you. Or, if you are really thankful you might even show your thankfulness by writing a note or giving a hug or a kiss or by doing something in return.
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.
That is our response of thankfulness to God.
How do you love God?
How do you love your neighbor?
How do you love yourself?
Do this and you will live.
I ran across a variation on this story this week. Once upon a time some guy fell into a pit and could not get himself out. A therapeutic person came by and said, "I really feel your pain down there." A common sense person came by and said, "It was inevitable someone would fall in there eventually." A fundamentalist said, "Only bad people fall into pits" even as a Calvinist swung by and said, "We all deserve our pits." A mathematician came by and calculated the odds of falling into the pit, and a self-centered person exclaimed, "You haven't seen anything until you've seen my pit!" An optimist saw the man and said, "Could be worse" even as a pessimist rejoined, "It will get worse before it's over." Then Jesus came by, dropped down onto his belly in the slippery mud around the pit, reached out a pierced hand, and pulled the man free. And this Jesus says to us, "Go and do likewise."
We lay down in the mud and serve our neighbors out of thankfulness to God for his many blessings, and we do it in so many ways. A group of us will go to build stepping stones to help Habitat for Humanity raise money so that a family can buy a quality home at a decent price. Some of us write cards. Some volunteer at the elementary school. Some make phone calls. Some build houses. Some bring people to church. But each of us loves God and neighbor and serves God and neighbor in a spirit of thankfulness.
Go and do likewise, Jesus says, for God loves you. Amen.