The Good Samaritan and Me

Have you ever been humbled by God? Not just experienced hard circumstances, but rather, had a mirror reflected to show the disfiguring blemishes in your faith?

Last spring, in the midst of our study of Luke, my house church discussed the parable of The Good Samaritan.  We dissected and debated the parable, leaving us satisfied that we knew our neighbor. Resting in the comfort that my faith and love were purer than the Levite or the Priest. I settled into a smug acceptance that I was, obviously, the Samaritan.

It only took a short while to discover that I could not be more wrong.

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus.

“Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

There was a woman who immigrated from Asia to America. Finding her home here, she fought to learn English, become a nail technician, and build a life of her own. Every day she bent over and scrubbed the feet of strangers. Every day she avoided eye contact while pampering those whose lives were unlike her own.  Every day she fought to live with dignity. And all the while, she held the death of her son deep in her heart.  A pain so deep and debilitating, it seeped into every aspect of her life.

A Christian woman sat before her checking her Facebook app and texting whomever would text back. Avoiding conversation, she convinced herself reading the subtitles on the national news was a better way to save both of their dignities. She held as still as possible while getting a pedicure so as not to be engaged in conversation. It was just easier that way.

A gay man came along and sat beside the woman. Seeing the pain in the beautician’s eyes, he engaged her in conversation and sought the answers to the pain he saw hiding in the recesses. He held her as she cried and told her that she was loved and cared for. He salved the pain of her wounds with his friendship. He tipped her well and promised to come back to continue their friendship.  

“What do you think? Which of the two became a neighbor?”

“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same”

You see, I was exactly what I railed against. I was too busy, too conceited, too prideful to step down to heal. It took a sweet friend, a friend who in most religious circles would be rejected, to show me what truly loving my neighbor was to look like. May I seek to be less like the religious elite and more like my friend.