This road we are called to walk with Jesus is not an easy one: being countercultural never is. Christians throughout time and around the world have been met with violence; persecution; lack of hospitality, safety, shelter, and comfort. We hear this in the first vignette of the Gospel as James and John go to the Samaritans. We hear Jesus say this to his followers: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Even for us today, here in the United States, we can find our lives of faith at odds with the standards set for us by society. This is not a new revelation, but a consistent theme of Christian life for more than 2000 years. So why bring it up again?
The point of this is to remind those early followers, and all of us, of what living a Christ like life entails. This Gospel passage takes away all the fine print and puts the risk out in the open. But, with great risk comes great reward. The reward of unending joy, blessing, love, grace, mercy, and everlasting life with God.
The sole purpose of our call to this life is the profound love God has for humanity. No violence is brought down on the Samaritans as James and John wish, because such an act is absolutely incongruous with the mission, identity, purpose, and life of God as lived out in Jesus Christ.
God loves us with a sacrificial love – a love that seems contrary to all the ways society says we are to love. We are called to live into, with all of our being, the countercultural love of God. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, no matter if you’ve been the Samaritans or James and John, whether you think you deserve it or not, we are all recipients of God’s love. That gift of love is the greatest gift we could ever ask for or imagine. Now, above all else, we are called to share that love with this broken and hurting world.