The View from the Other Side of the Road
Pastor Clay Faulk
In Luke 10, Jesus was asked what someone needed to do to attain eternal life. Jesus claims the person must love God and love their neighbor. But the man asking the question responds with a question, “Who is my neighbor?” So, Jesus tells this story.
“There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him.
He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’ What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” “The one who treated him kindly,” the man said to Jesus.
Christians do a wonderful job of helping people in need. In aspects of food, clothing, and shelter many Christian people and agencies perform a great deal of outreach in both our nation and the world.
The story of the Good Samaritan is one that reaches much farther than it may first seem. To me, the story does speak to the need to help people, but it also speaks to two other issues (maybe more).
First, the Samaritan is considered a “nobody”… a “bad seed.” He is viewed by any Jew of Jesus’ day as someone who can’t be trusted nor respected. Thus, it is an irony that the person who does “a good deed” is this Samaritan. But the twist is that two men of faith, a priest and a Levite (another priest) simply walk on bye the hurt man. Maybe they feared becoming “unclean” and they would not be able to participate in the religious festivities for days. Either way, the Samaritan is the one who places the needs of the hurt man above the needs of himself.
Secondly, I am reminded that helping one man who is beaten is not enough. If he is truly my neighbor, I must question the safety of the area and find out if I can protect people from future attacks. The robber could have motive to return and do more harm. Thus, the area must be patrolled by law enforcement and become a place where people can safely travel from Jericho to Jerusalem. Sooner or later, I cannot love my neighbor if I continue to allow acts of violence to be perpetrated without acting on their behalf. This requires a system change doesn’t it? Somewhere along the line, the people, me and you included, must demand change, the government must act to budget for a safety program for the area, the law enforcement must be properly equipped and paid to do the job, and finally the justice system must prosecute and make sure the message of change is clear.
This sounds like Jesus actually wants His children (us) to live in decent, law-abiding societies where people truly care for each other, look out for one another, and seek resolution to injustices (always in favor of the care of people) when they occur.
How is the system working in your town? Is it a safe place to live, work, and go to school? If not, what system changes must take place to ensure that everyone is protected? We can complain about drugs, gangs, violence, crime of all types, but it will take the community to stand up in unity and demand that system changes occur. I thought I might say this because, frankly, I, as a pastor, find that too often find myself walking down the other side of the road. What will it take to love our community so much that crime is defeated? Speak up and let’s try to find out. Until next time, Blessings!