Even if you do not spend a lot of time reading & studying the Bible, you are more than likely familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan. I believe this is an important concept because I encourage everyone to look at the Scriptures as A great source of truth for living, even if you do not yet consider it to be THE source of truth for living. I think you will find it compelling.
The story is about a Jewish man that falls victim to robbers while on a road trip. He is beaten and left for dead. Fellow countrymen see him – even men in a position of some responsibility to help their fellow man – but pass by without getting involved. Along comes a Samaritan who stops to help, gets him to a safe place to recover, and follows up to pay for his medical bills.
What is important about this story is that, as separate groups, Jews and Samaritans hated each other. The societal norms of their day expected them to despise one another, but this particular Samaritan chose to rise above cultural norms and acted with love and compassion. Jesus, when pointing out the moral of this story, says we are to love our neighbors and then defines our neighbors as literally everyone, but especially those that society says we should hate.
Who in our society are we supposed to despise? Someone from a different ethnic background? Sexual orientation? Political party or viewpoint? Religious belief? Choose to stop and act with love and compassion. Care for them, provide for their needs, and follow up.
There is another Samaritan story in the Bible. Luke 9:51-56 again relates Jesus’ perspective on how we should treat those different than us:
“When the days drew near for him (Jesus) to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.”
Given the announcement yesterday that the most recent former President of the U.S. is going to seek office again, we are going to find ourselves wading further into the muck of observing people tell fire to come down from heaven and consume those who dare to be different in any way. I say this simply as an observer of the facts related to our current political environment, and I quickly add that this is not new territory in our country, and many others as well.
But there is a better way. Jesus was sensitive to the relational issues between Jews and Samaritans, so he sent people ahead to test the waters. Not so that he could condemn them when they didn’t receive him, but so that he could stop somewhere else to avoid stirring up angst. And he has no interest in seeing them punished for acting exactly like he would have expected them to.
May we go and do likewise.