18 April 2022
A primary lesson from the Good Samaritan story is that you identify covenant brothers and sisters by how they act. Jesus specifically said DNA is not the issue; God can raise up "Children of Abraham" from the stones on the ground. And it's not a matter of officially designated status, as the priest and Levite both failed to act according to the Covenant. The issue turned on how the Samaritan walked within the Covenant boundaries.
When someone claims that they are a Christian, then it's our duty to observe the Covenant boundaries in comparison to their behavior, to include their speech. By their fruit you shall know them. It's not enough that they can claim adherence to any denominational boundaries; those are most certainly not the Covenant boundaries. Those are boundaries of intellectual orthodoxy and human tradition. The issue is whether they are a Christian-in-effect. You can talk all you like about seeing Jesus in another person, but you first have to know Him as the Hebrew man of the Covenant to say that.
Further, it's only contextual; it's not permanent. When you act like the Hebrew Messiah, I'll treat you accordingly. That's how Jesus taught it in this parable. The definition of "neighbor" was rooted in the Covenant and conviction.
So it doesn't matter if you are among the Elect, and it doesn't matter if you belong to an organization that claims Christ. What matters is that your presence in my life helps to build shalom as the aim of the Covenant. All these so-called Christian organizations laying claim to me and my resources must first path through the filter of faith. Not their own faith, but mine. I am the appointed shepherd of the dominion God has granted me, and you are not Him. I am responsible to Him in how I use what He has given me.
Don't expect me to offer tribal support if you denigrate my calling and convictions. And I certainly hope you'll to do the same to me. If that means a hostile reception, I sincerely hope it comes from conviction, not institutional turf protection. I can respect the former and stay out of your way. The latter comes from Satan.
Get this plugged into your mission contemplations. Already we are having a tough time, and things will get worse rather suddenly. Anyone can ask certain things of me during hard times and I'm likely to try my best to help, simply because that's a part of my mission and witness. However, don't try to use any kind of tribal leverage for extraordinary requests, unless you can show me that we are within the same covenant boundaries. I have a firm grasp on the terms under which God wants me to give or take things I use for that mission.
Get this: The vast majority of those claiming Christ are outside the Covenant. They are more like the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. They act according to the institutional boundaries to which they belong, but those are not equivalent to the actual Covenant of Christ. Their claims, and their indignation when you reject their claims, mark them as outsiders. Treat them as outsiders in need of redemption.
I've discussed Covenant boundaries at length on this blog. That was not meant to tell you where they are, but how to decide for yourself where they are for you. The single best way to decide how to treat someone making claims on your calling and provision from God is to discern first whether they are submitting to the feudal dominion God has placed in your hands. Keep in mind that any such submission is in practice virtually always provisional -- temporary and contextual. But without that provisional submission, you are simply not authorized by God to do very much for them. Everything He has given you is primarily for use in building Covenant shalom. If your shepherd's authority does not cover them, then you are being an unfaithful steward to provide very much.
You must know in your own convictions where to draw the line. The Bible clearly says that we should be willing to offer to share of the essentials -- food, water, shelter, etc. -- that we can afford. But to consider someone a dependent is another matter entirely. If you have no sense of boundaries about what you can and cannot give to whom, you are not ready to face this tribulation.
This document is public domain; spread the message.