Monday, April 11, 2016
“We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. We do it for people like us, and for people whom we like. Jesus will have none of that. Everyone is your neighbor, and you MUST love your neighbor.” ― Timothy Keller
You all know the story of the good Samaritan, or you should. If you don’t, take a minute and read Luke 10:25-37. Most of us, when we first read it, me included, didn’t understand what the big deal was about the main guy being a Samaritan. Maybe if you think of the hurt guy as a Palestinian and the man who cares for him as an Israeli, or a Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan being helped by a black man from Mississippi, or a concentration camp Commandant being helped by an inmate of Auschwitz, or . . . you get the picture but not even these analogies are not completely appropriate. Hatred between Jews and Samaritans was fierce and long-standing and while some blacks and racists got along, and some Palestinians and Israelis do not hate each other, it was a fact of life in Jesus’ day that Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, period. It was like the examples I gave times ten which makes the parable all the more meaningful as there is not now nor ever was a stronger hatred and dislike as that of Jews for Samaritans. This parable would have been so shocking that some people would have had to hear it twice to get the point because at the first hearing they would have stopped listening. We do that sometimes, too. Jesus knew quite well what He was doing. He was making the hero of the story, the man of compassion and caring, someone none of His listeners would have ever met or known, yet that is exactly what He did. He gave the eyes that only saw need and the heart that only knew caring and compassion to one of the most hated and vilified groups of people His listeners could have known. I’m quite sure He even shocked His own disciples, it was that powerful a parable. This is the parable we need to make our mantra in these troubled times. We need to remember that all are our neighbors and it is a heart for others that sees no race, no creed, no nationality, no illegal status, no gender determination, no sexual orientation, no . . . are you getting this? What counts is caring, first, last, and always. We were commanded, not guided or suggested, to love one another as Christ loved us and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Love that does not oppress or marginalize, or hate, or hurt, but love that conquers our own hearts and turns us into those for whom others see Christ in our words and actions. We are to see all others as the Samaritan in the parable saw others—as our neighbors. This is one of the measures by which we will be judged. You remember the phrase “the handwriting is on the wall?” The handwriting told a king that he had been judged and was found wanting. We need to remember that. We need to love and love unconditionally. We need to have eyes and hearts for others regardless of who they happen to be. I didn’t write this parable, I am only reminding myself and those who read this, that the Son of God was very plain when He spoke, and His words are the Truth.