Luke 10: 36, 37
“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.”
These verses come from The Parable of the Good Samaritan. A man walking down the street in a very bad part of town was beaten, robbed and left to die. Could have happened right here in LA. Three different guys see this dying man in desperate need of aid. First, the Priest (like Andy or Lee) does not stop but crosses to the other side of the street and keeps on going. Next, the Levite (churchgoer like you and I) quickly walks by on the other side of the street ignoring the man’s necessity for help. Finally, the Samaritan (the guy you would least expect) not only helps him but takes him to an inn, cares for him, and pays for his whole stay and more.
Jesus then asks a no-brainer question: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The lawyer answers, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus then responds, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus’ statement is very simple and to the point – Be a neighbor. Our calling from God is this – to love God and be a neighbor to others by meeting their needs. To love God means to show mercy to those in need. Neighbors should not be determined by race, religion, nationality, sexuality or gender; neighbors consist of anyone in need. Jesus would not want us to rule out certain people as neighbors.
Even though Jesus’ message seems so simple, we still struggle with being a good neighbor. We often, like the Priest or Levite, are too busy and hurried to stop and help. Sometime we fear being injured ourselves or getting sick from touching or assisting the needy. Or the neighbor is not like us so we avoid engaging with them. The bother, the situation or discomfort stops us from helping.
I often struggle with judging or challenging those begging or looking for handouts. Do they really need money; are they really homeless living on the streets? In front of Carl’s Jr in Montrose I was approached by a man who rode up on a bike. He said he was hungry and asked for money to buy some food. I don’t like to give cash so I asked him what he’d like at Carl’s, then proceeded in to purchase a burger and fries. Coming out to provide a needed meal and feel good inside for helping a neighbor, the man was nowhere to be found. This just compounded my distrust for beggars and the needy.
But then I’m reminded again by this parable, Jesus says “Go and be a neighbor” – no matter when, where, who or how.