In a political climate where we expect half truths, massaged messaged and outright lies, how do we determine what is plumb? What is true? Who is telling the truth and if we find that person, is it even possible to follow them or is the truth something that is unattainable anymore? Can we live our lives righteously? Or will there always be areas of our lives that aren't plumb because plumb is not possible in human life?
Isn't that what the lawyer was asking Jesus? What do I need to do to lead a meaningful life, a life that has purpose, a life that leads to things eternal? I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and not believe he was looking for an easy or sure way to heaven. I believe he wanted what the rest of us want, a life that matters.
He wanted a plumb line, something by which he could judge and order or reorder his life. This is what Israel had lost according to Amos. They had lost plumb; they had lost their way to knowing what righteousness was. My father in law had a word for it, bashatze (pronounced buh-shate-zee). In a sentence, "that wall over there is a little bashatze." Or about something that seems unsafe, "that seems a little bashatze." Although I never heard him use it this way, I dare think he might say of our current political, economic climate, "bashatze."
Israel had become a little bashatze. They had lost their way and God was going to give them a plumb line. God was going to give them something by which to judge righteousness and injustice so that they could lead lives worthy of the Lord (according to the Colossians letter). It's what the lawyer wanted - a way to judge life. So his second question was "well who is my neighbor?" And Jesus of course didn't answer that question, instead Jesus answered the question, "how do we act as neighbors?" Being a neighbor is plumb.
Sermon Dialogue Idea: Ask the congregation how they know what is righteous? How do they judge/determine what is right and wrong?
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