On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”Luke 10:25-37 NIV
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“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.”
Familiarity can lead to unfamiliarity. I wonder if we’ve become so familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan that we’ve forgotten how shocking it is.
The Samaritans and the Jews hated each other. Their differences were ethnic, religious, and geographic. They avoided each other at all costs. Yet Jesus holds up a Samaritan – not someone from his own religion or culture – as the example we need to follow.
God wants us to look beyond the boundaries of our tribes. His command is to love our neighbors. Our neighbors, according to Jesus, must include people who are not like us – people whom we may disagree with or even dislike.
As Christ’s followers, we should reach out to people regardless of race, religion or any other social, cultural or political label. Love is not comfortable; it is not safe; it is not easy. But if we are truly to do the will of God, it is essential.
Help us to see other people as you see them: as masterpieces of your divine hands, worthy of love, dignity and respect. Help us to break down the barriers around us, and to open our hearts to all. Amen.
Author: Gideon Heugh, Tearfund