LETTING DOWN MY GUARD
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37
Each child of God knows that he is to love people. He also knows that he is to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Each of these commandments is easy to embrace when it’s vague but each of us has our prejudices. We believe we are exempt from showing love to certain people. We are willing to evangelize the ones we perceive deserve to know Jesus. Jonah was willing to speak difficult things to an audience of Jews but when asked to go to the Ninevites, brutal enemies of his people, he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He didn’t want them to experience God’s mercy. Bloodthirsty, the Ninevites had long exacted forms of brutality against the Jews. Jonah’s heart had its limits.
For the Jews in Jesus time, enemies were no longer Assyrians, per se, but Samaritans. Though ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ was one of the Old Testament laws, they only interpreted ‘neighbor’ to include people of their own nationality and religion. It was for this very reason that the following conversation took place.
A Jewish teacher of the law came and asked Jesus which of the commandments was the most important. Jesus answered him, ‘Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.’ The teacher was intuitive enough to ask the next question, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Jesus could have answered, ‘Anyone is your neighbor, including a Samaritan,’ but sometimes the truth is so threatening that it’s better for someone to discover it himself through a story, followed up by a thought-provoking question. If he is the one to have to give the correct answer, he speaks the truth to himself. What a wise teacher Jesus is. He withholds a sermon and brings truth in the back door of the Jewish teacher’s heart.
Today, I am facing a conversation that is extremely difficult. There are painful truths to be told but truth is way too threatening if stated categorically. My heart is dreading this encounter because the stakes are high for truth to be discovered and owned. After meditating on this parable, perhaps a series of thought-provoking questions are the means by which something spiritual can result today. I have no idea what the questions are yet but I’m trusting God to give them to me.
As much as I’d rather not know, I am asking You to show me who my Samaritans are. Forgive my prejudice, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen