Ed Delph shares another thought-provoker…
From time to time, most of us feel left out. We feel like misfits. Others seem so confident, so sure of themselves, ‘insiders’ who know the ropes, old hands in a club from which we are excluded.
So, what do we ‘outsiders’ do? We form clubs too.
‘Them’ and ‘us’
These clubs range from informal to formal. Here is at least one place where we are in and they are out. Identity or worth is achieved by excluding all but the chosen. The price that we pay for this is a reduction of reality, a shrinkage of life.
Author Eugene Peterson in his introduction of the gospel of Luke talks about this tendency not only in politics, cultures, nationalities, social clubs and economics but also religion.
He writes: ‘But religion has a long history of doing just that, of reducing the huge mysteries of God to the respectability of club rules, of shrinking the vast human community to a “membership”.’
Luke is the gospel written for ‘outsiders.’ Luke was a vigorous champion of the outsider. Why?
• He was an outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of the writers in the New Testament.
• He shows how Jesus included what the religious establishment would consider outsiders of the day: women, common labourers, the racially different Samaritans, the poor.
Dr Peterson concludes, ‘As Luke tells the story, all of us who have found ourselves on the outside looking in on life with no hope of gaining entrance (and who of us hasn’t felt it?) now find the doors wide open, found and welcomed by God in Jesus.’
The Good Samaritan
No parable in the Bible is clearer on this idea than the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33).
In this incident, Jesus wanted his audience to have an emotional connection to the characters in the parable…that connection is this: ‘Who am I in this story?’
The Good Samaritan parable starts 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, your soul, your mind and your strength and love your neighbour as yourself.’ The young scholar asked, ‘And who is my neighbour?”
Jesus responded with a parable…
A man was walking on the dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Robbers beat him and robbed him. As he lay by the side of the road stripped naked and dying, a Jewish priest came on the road, saw the man, walked around him and continued his journey. Another religious man, a Levite, came along and ignored the man also.
Then a Samaritan man came along, saw the robbed man, and felt compassion on him. The Samaritan gave him first aid, bandaging and disinfecting his wounds. He lifted the victim on his donkey, led 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 victim’s neighbour?’ ‘The Samaritan’ replied the scholar. Jesus said, ‘Go and do the same.’
What a curve ball!
The young scholar and the awestruck didn’t expect that curve ball! They received an ‘Aha’ that day.
Remember, Samaritans were bad guys to the Jewish people. They were the worst of the worst. Yet this Samaritan did what the religious establishment was supposed to do…love their neighbour as themselves.
• What the Samaritan did was equivalent to a Ku Klux Klan member rescuing, bandaging, and paying for an African American’s recovery – or vice versa.
• What the Samaritan did was equivalent to a radical Muslim rescuing an Israel citizen or vice versa.
• Our opinions should be formed by the Bible…not culture. That works both ways. We are like an eye, a little white and a little black so we can see.
• The Samaritan paid the whole bill…time, energy, finances, and emotions.
• We, like the religious scholar, can have the right answers and not do a thing.
Selfishness costs nothing but compassion is costly
Good neighbours in action
The bigger point of this story is this…
Humanity is the robbed man by the side of the road. Naked, stripped, half dead, we all need a Good Samaritan to save us.
Religion steps around us. Who is the good Samaritan in this story? Who are we in this parable?
Jesus said, ‘I will pay the bill in full.’ And he did! That’s why we’ll be celebrating Easter next month…and as we do so, let’s be good neighbours, good Samaritans, to the lost – those without Christ. The world is full of people needing good neighbours!
Dr Ed Delph is president of Nationstrategy, an organisation with the strategy of envisioning and empowering today’s leaders in the church to be some of tomorrow’s leaders in the community. Links: firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.nationstrategy.com