Luke 10: 25-37 tells one of Jesus’ most famous stories given in response to the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The man asking is an expert in the law and so Jesus asks what the law says. The Golden Rule is quoted, love God and treat others as you would like to be treated. Good answer but the man presses on, “Who is my neighbor?” How do we define “other.” For sure we include family, friends and perhaps people we know but surely it does not include enemies and foreigners.
Chatting with the women in the village while on the field, I asked what I should do if I came upon an elephant. No problem, they said because I need only expose my breast and say I nursed my babies up front like the elephant. I had the feeling I was classified with the animals. Anyone not of their tribe was not considered human. Jesus gives the story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were descendants of the tribes that did not support the son of King David and were considered of mixed bloodlines. A man beaten up by thieves was left to die and the “good” people pass the catastrophe by but a Samaritan stops and helps the man. Jesus asks, “Who was the neighbor?” It was “the one who showed mercy,” answers the man of law. It was the foreigner. It was the man who understood ridicule and rejection, empathized with the wounded man and crossed internal boundaries to help.
Jesus’ stories and parables were not designed to entertain or bring laughter but to bring truth to our lives. So often we draw the line between good and bad a bit beyond where we are so we are on the good side. Faith is not about knowing the right answers and being well educated but more about receiving and giving God’s love and forgiveness to others. The receiving is belief and faith even when situations are ugly – the wounded was a creation of God – and the giving was reaching out to the other. I listen to the story and see my areas of needed growth. Is there some area where you need to pray about growing today? Perhaps someone you have trouble forgiving? Perhaps someone to take a gift to? Acts of kindness are generally appreciated. Blessings as you ponder this story.