A Disciple's Bias

- 7/14/2019


Luke 10:25-37

I think that often when we read the parable of the Good Samaritan we miss the point of the story. In the parable, when the lawyer (who was not a lawyer like we think of a lawyer, but really more like a seminary professor or highly educated clergyperson) correctly identifies the Samaritan as the neighbor, Jesus responds with the words, “That is the right answer; do this and you will live.”

I think when we read Jesus’ initial response we focus on the “do this.” And so, we interpret the parable to mean that Jesus is telling the lawyer (and us) to go and be good Samaritans by noticing those in need and helping them. In other words, we think Jesus was telling the Good Samaritan to go and do something.

But I want to submit a different way of reading the story. I would suggest that maybe Jesus wasn’t telling this man to DO something so much as he was challenging him to SEE the world around him, especially its people, in a different way. To put it another way, perhaps it isn’t as much about what we do as it is about how we live. The Lawyer's question that prompted Jesus to tell the parable, was not a DO question. It was a BE question. The lawyer wanted to know whom Jesus considered to BE his “neighbor.” It was in response to this question that Jesus told the parable about the Good Samaritan. And Jesus’ meaning is clear. He told the lawyer in no uncertain terms that he must BE a neighbor to those he considered ritually unclean, socially unacceptable, and morally corrupt.

This isn’t a story about finding easy opportunities to do some good works in our communities. It isn’t even a story about answering the call to give substantially to support those in great need, or to sacrificially go and serve in places in the world where people suffer.

This is a story about how we are to live as disciples every single day, right here at home, in our own neighborhoods and churches. It is a call to see the needs of the people we meet on a walk, or in the grocery store, or on our way to do something else, and to not think first about our own safety or our own agendas, but rather to live as people who willingly let the needs of the world around us interrupt our plans so that we never miss an opportunity to offer mercy to all of God’s children. This, says Jesus, is how we transform the world.

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