“Dangerous Unselfishness” was a term coined by Martin Luther King. In his sermon on the Good Samaritan, Todd argues that living a life that is unselfish is “dangerous” because “It’s risky, it’s uncomfortable, but also because it is utterly subversive and confounding to the powers and principalities that we struggle with daily.”
Text: Luke 10:25-37
This sermon was originally preached June 25, 2014 in Hyattsville, Maryland and includes an audio excerpt from Martin Luther King’s final speech delivered April 3, 1968 at Mason Temple in Memphis before a congregation of striking sanitation workers along with a reading of the text. Below are a few quotes from Todd’s sermon followed by the complete audio recording.
“The parable of the good Samaritan is not offered to us as an ideal, an abstract notion of righteousness, it’s not a topic of theological and philosophical debate. In fact, Jesus tells this parable, just as Dr. King points out, to steer the conversation away from theological and philosophical debate. It’s a call. A call to go and to do…
We would much rather hear that the priest and the Levite were justified in their commitment to elite ritual and aloof piety done in their own space in their own time. But that’s the trouble with the whole “as yourself” bit, as in “love your neighbor as yourself” It means we have to follow through, it means we have to follow up, it means we have to get involved. Which of course is messy, it’s inconvenient, it’s not comfortable…
“Jesus didn’t come to give us comfort, He came to give us life.”
We think comfort will give us life. Comfort is a drug, it’s not a medicine. It masks symptoms of lifelessness within us and around us but it doesn’t cure them. Which is why we have to continue to search for more and more of it. No, comfort does not lead to life. Love is what leads to life and life is the context for all of this…
Jesus says, if you want to live, love. Love God, love neighbor. Do this, and you will live. Do this, because love always moves us to act. Love is active. It has to be active because life is active. And faith that is grounded and motivated by love must therefore be active. Otherwise there can be no life in it.
Jesus didn’t come to give us comfort, he came to give us life… Life doesn’t happen at a safe distance and neither does faith.”
The sermon in its entirety, below: