When we picture the “Good Samaritan” and the “victim” in our mind’s eye, what kinds of people do we see? I don’t think we see folks that really hate each other – we picture people with differences in style or opinion. To illustrate, how would you fill in the blanks here:
A _______ is beaten and left for dead on the side of the road and a _______ stops to help.
Who would be our “hero” and “victim” in this story?
- Catholic and a Jew?
- Pentecostal and a Baptist?
- A silent monk and a TV evangelist?
- Monk (from the TV show) and a homeless Gary Busey?
In all likelihood, we probably picture people that are pretty different from each other, but at least we would expect them to tolerate each other and be civil.
How about if Jesus were retelling this story today? I get the impression that he would tell the story with a lot more shock value to the modern day church. What if the story was more like one of these:
- A muslim extremist comes across a wall street executive who’s been mugged and helps him.
- A gay activist comes across Pat Robertson lying on the side of the road and treats him lovingly. (Pat Robertson comes across a gay activist?!?!)
- A neo-Nazi youth comes across a Rabbi that has been badly hurt and nurses him back to health.
You see, Jesus was trying to make a point. God calls us to love even our enemies, not just our friends. When asked by a young man what the most important commandment was, Jesus responded with the “Shema” (thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength) and also that he should “love your neighbor as yourself”.
When pressed with the question – “who is my neighbor?” – Jesus responded with the Good Samaritan illustration. He was trying to drill it home, and yes, it was shocking. We are to love people REGARDLESS of who they are, what they believe or where they come from.
Who might Jesus be calling you to love? Picture the one person that you think, “boy, I hope God doesn’t call me to love them!” That’s probably the one…..