Church-Community Connection: Who is the person in your neighborhood? | Features
From time to time, most of us feel left out. We feel like misfits. Others seem so sure of themselves, so sure of themselves, “insiders” who know the tricks of the trade, old members of a club from which we are excluded. So, what do the “outsiders” do? They also form exclusive clubs.
Clubs range from informal to formal, usually based on a theme. The members think, “Here’s at least one place I can belong, and these other people are out.” Identity or value is obtained by excluding everything except “we”. The price we pay for these exclusive clubs is a shrinking of reality, a shrinking of life. Why? Our thing becomes everything, at least for us.
In his introduction to the Gospel of Luke, author Eugene Peterson discusses this trend in politics, cultures, nationalities, social clubs, economics, and religion. “But religion has a long history of doing just that, of reducing the enormous mysteries of God to the respectability of club rules, of reducing the vast human community to a membership.”
Luke is the Gospel written for “strangers”. Luke was a staunch defender of “the underdog.” Why? He was an outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish caste of New Testament writers. It shows how Jesus included what the religious establishment would consider to be outsiders at the time: women, common workers, Samaritans of different races, the poor and even the rich.
Dr Peterson writes: “As Luke tells the story, all of us who have found ourselves on the outside staring at life with no hope of entering it (and who of us hasn’t felt it? ) now find the doors wide open. , found and welcomed by God in Jesus.
No parable in the Bible is clearer on this idea than the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus wanted his audience to connect emotionally with the characters in the parable. Jesus wanted his audience to think, “Who am I in this story?
The parable of the Good Samaritan begins with a dialogue about eternal life with Jesus and a young religious scholar. Jesus quotes the Old Testament. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The young scholar asked, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered with a parable.
A man was walking on the dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho. The thieves beat him and robbed him. As he lay by the side of the road, undressed and dying, a Jewish priest came up the road, saw the man, walked around him, and continued on his journey. Then another religious champion, a Levite, also came and ignored the man.
Then a Samaritan man came, saw the stolen man and had compassion on him. So the Samaritan gave him first aid, dressing and disinfecting his wounds. Then he lifted the victim on his donkey, drove him to an inn, and paid for his entire stay at the inn until he recovered.
Jesus asked the young religious scholar, “Which of these three men was the neighbor of the victim? “The Samaritan,” replied the scholar. Jesus said, “Go and do the same. The public did not expect this curve ball. The young scholar and the stunned audience received an “aha” that day. Remember, the Samaritans were the wicked of the Jewish people. They were the worst of the worst. Yet this Samaritan did what the religious establishment was created to do: love his neighbor as himself.
What the Samaritan did was tantamount to a Ku Klux Klan member saving, bandaging and paying for the recovery of an African American or vice versa. What the Samaritan did was tantamount to a radical Muslim saving an Israeli citizen or vice versa. Notice I said the reverse. Altruism works both ways. Our opinions are formed by the Bible, not by our current, unstable, fickle culture or affinity group. We are like an eye, a little white and a little black to see.
Selfishness costs nothing, but compassion is expensive. The Samaritan paid the entire bill. The Samaritan gave his time, his energy, his finances and his emotions. You see, anyone can be like a religious scholar. We can have the right answers and do nothing about it. Someone once wrote, “To love the whole world is not a chore; my only problem is my next door neighbor.
Who are we, you and me, in this parable? I hope the Good Samaritan. And please don’t try to signal virtue when you come across a need for someone. I’m sick of all the “cool” people on social media taking selfies while they’re giving $20 to some poor guy on the street corner. It’s not altruism. It is self-glorification. The Good Samaritan wanted no credit for his act of kindness. Nor is generosity. As that old song says, “Look at yourself, and you will look at others differently.”
The most significant point of this story is this. Humanity is the stolen man by the side of the road. Naked, undressed and half dead, we all need a Good Samaritan to save us. In many cases, religion bypasses us. But, unfortunately, in many cases, the same is true for politics, business, media and education.
Who is the Good Samaritan in this story? Jesus said, “I will foot the full bill for mankind,” and he did. It’s a very good neighborhood. Maybe there’s a person in our neighborhood who says, “Don’t you want to be my neighbor?”