Wednesday, March 3, 2010

40 day Journey with Martin Luther (Augsburg Books) Day 10: Death By A Thousand Cuts

"We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life's needs." --Martin Luther

Outside of Luther's writing on the First Commandment, this writing on the Fifth Commandment is the hardest to pick apart. I believe this writing carries some of the greatest wisdom. Luther is adept at giving students of the Commandments a positive trajectory in how to follow any given commandment, and looking out for neighbor has a centering quality for living, because the temptation and societal prerogative is to merely look out for self. Loving neighbor as much as self is a radical statement. Putting that statement next to loving God with heart, soul and mind is challenging, but loving neighbor as self reveals how much we love God and in turn shows the abundance of God's love in the world.

In an age where political philosophy seems to dominate a toxic public discourse about how much society is obligated (if at all) to help our neighbor, I'm not going to worry so much about politics as much as I used to, but work with the resources and boundaries I have available and work with my neighbors to serve my neighbors. I have never had politics prevent me from loving my neighbor as myself--therefore that will be my goal. If politics becomes a way I can serve my neighbor, then that is the forum I will use. Serving neighbor begins with God's action through me. When I ignore those opportunities to serve my neighbor because I'm more concerned about the political process, I contribute to the death of my neighbor. Though my actions do not appear to overtly harm my neighbor, my action (or lack thereof), contribute to a death by a thousand cuts.

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