“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.” ~ Luke 10:36-37
It’s a classic, yes? Most people are presumably familiar with the story.
But what I’d like to briefly contemplate on is a view of this particular parable from an angle which I believe is quite easy to overlook. I know it is, for me.
When Jesus told of this venerated tale, he made a case for all believers to pursue. He established a standard of righteousness through the likeness of a particular individual. He carved a hero out of someone whom the Old Testament-era Judeans considered not only a cultic half-breed but a downright outcast, as well. Or, a despised enemy, even.
One might not realize it but in many levels, we, in today’s society, are no different at all. We desire to be heroes. We long to be inspired. However, we naturally look up to the usual suspects, don’t we? Our examples typically come from the ones that we’re able to relate to easily – our friends, our family or perhaps, even revered celebrities. But when do we ever seek inspiration from the ones we might consider outcasts or, quote-unquote, enemies?
Think about it. It’s an issue of relate-ability. A matter of familiarity and comfort zones. It’s subtle but yet quite obvious, really. It can be about race, status or beliefs. It’s our perception of others. Our cliques. Our prejudices. The things we don’t enjoy talking about – because we are fearful of the subject matter and have nothing explicit to say about it. Unaware, we create invisible schisms, chasms and walls amongst each other. It’s a heinous misdeed and I certainly admit my own guilt!
How compelling it truly is to behold Jesus’ upside-down ideology and how it instinctively goes against the grain of our fleshly perspectives and leanings! Surely, I am in constant awe!
There is something astonishing and miraculous when we elect to pry our eyes open and witness the unexpected. The good within the perceived bad. Yes! To befriend a sinner; to plant a tiny seed of faith; to love as much as we’ve been forgiven; to knock in perseverance on God’s door; to find treasure in the unseen.
Or yet, to simply be a good neighbor, just like Sam. Good Sam. It’s a great place to start, if you ask me.