Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beyond "Law and Order"

"But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and come to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and then he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave then to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and what ever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.' [Jesus asks] "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" [the expert in the law said] "the one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."
Luke 10:33-37 NASB

In one of the most familiar parables in the Bible, the Good Samaritan, Jesus takes us directly to the virtual scene of the crime. There on the side of a treacherous section of a winding, steep, rocky road between Jerusalem and Jericho well known for its perpetrators, the victim lays unconscious, bleeding and left for dead. Jesus describes two others who pass but neglect to help the man. The third passer-by stops; a Samaritan, having compassion on the man, bandages his wounds, takes him to the nearest inn, cares for him, pays the innkeeper for future needs, and plans to check on him when returning home. Jesus' investigation asks us, "So, who saw the need and responded? Who demonstrates true compassion? Who was able to love without judgement?"

Jesus draws us into this senseless brutality, calls us out of our comfort zones, shows us how we are to love others. As always, political correctness tries to give its answer - or excuse - for not helping. After all, the priest follows the law keeping himself "religiously clean" while the Levite, too, keeps about his religious responsibilities. Jesus reaches beyond mere religious order and steps directly into a cultural and societal conflict. The Samaritan helping the victim crosses all kinds of social barriers; the centuries old mutual hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans highlights a dilemma. Jesus asks if we really see the needs of people or pretend not to notice. Jesus asks if we truly love others like He loves or just quote Bible verses about God's love? Jesus asks if we have genuine compassion for people or attempt to evaluate according to race, gender, or creed? 

Listening to this investigation does not tell us anything about the injured person. We do not know if he simply falls prey to some robbers, or perhaps, he, too, is a thief himself who loses an argument with a fellow robber. On this road known for crime and opportunity, hurt finds a helping hand. Every day we take a similar journey. Sometimes disappointment targets us; other times, need calls from the other side of the road. Sometimes we are overlooked or excluded; other times, unexpected love sees beyond public opinion. Jesus calls us to lay down outward appearances and stop beside need. Jesus calls each of us to develop compassionate hearts and unselfish spirits, to love fully and unconditionally. Reach beyond 'law and order'; go and do the same! ~dho