Friday, October 17, 2014

The Great Commandment

A diabetic traveler named Snyder headed south on the Overseas Highway. About ten miles south of Homestead, Florida, he reported, “I had an attack and felt myself passing out. I knew I had better stop and wait for help.” He clicked on his flashers and slowly faded into a diabetic coma while hundreds of motorists raced by his parked car, sitting helplessly.

Eventually two men stopped long enough to rob him of $150. Half an hour later, the robbers returned. Discovering their victim was still without help, they added his watch and ring to their collection.

Hours later an anonymous lady stopped, but drove quickly away when asked for help. A State Trooper quickly arrived, acknowledging that an anonymous caller had reported a disabled motorist. An ambulance followed shortly.

Snyder later offered “sincere thanks” to the anonymous caller, admitting he might have been reluctant to stop and help someone in the past. “I think I’d be different now,” he confessed, “I would stop and do what I could.”

Unimaginable challenges dot our landscapes. We can work for people’s best interests, or we can take advantage of them. We can also turn our backs on them, but it is our call. In Snyder’s case, thieves took advantage.

The Good Samaritan models the option Jesus would have us follow (Luke 10). Admittedly risky, the good we can achieve readily outweighs most potential risks. We meet the Good Samaritan following a “hands on” training experience in which Jesus sent seventy witnesses into neighboring towns and villages to preach and teach.

They travelled two by two. After seeing people’s lives changed, and after experiencing God’s Amazing Grace, they returned buzzing like Bees. Jesus praised them for their efforts and reminded them that prophets and kings had waited to see what they had just experienced (23-24).

This unfolding drama prompted a distrustful but inquisitive lawyer to enquire as to how he might become a disciple. Whatever his motivation; he felt their joy. Jesus, sensing his hunger, drilled straight to the bottom of the well: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart … soul … strength, and … mind; and your neighbor as yourself“ (Luke 10:27, NASV).

Feeling vulnerable and “wishing to justify himself, the Lawyer pressed Jesus: “And who is my neighbor?

Jesus responded by describing how robbers mugged a certain business traveler. Two church members found the victim in great need, but ignored him. They were busy being faithful!

Admittedly, the Samaritan had nothing to lose; he was racially-mixed and ethnically segregated. He was a racial and religious outsider, but familiar with life around the edges. He took the risk by doing what the “blue bloods” dared not do - offer help.

Jesus praised this risk-taker from society’s outer fringes with an unqualified endorsement. “Which one of these three,” He demanded, “do you think was a neighbor” to the victim?

The lawyer readily agreed the politically incorrect Samaritan showed the most mercy. With that, Jesus declared “Go and do what he did” (Luke 10:37, NCV).1 This simple no-frills command reveals the heart of Jesus. It could correct the course of human history, if we would practice it.

The Priest and the Levite avoided this discomfort and ignored both offenders and victim. The ostracized Samaritan took great personal risk, but did what he could.

So: “Who is our neighbor? And, what kind of neighbors will we be? Only at the foot of that old rugged cross is there place sufficient to allow human needs to intersect with God’s Saving Grace.

Nancy Nearing was a working mother with two children. When she learned her boss of six years was about to lose his kidneys to a genetic disease; she chose to intentionally give life rather than simply fret and wring her hands. She concluded, “I had a choice.”

This forty-two year-old Virginia technical writer worked with a team of computer programmers headed by Art Helms. As Helms’ friend and employee, she became his life-giving Samaritan by donating a kidney!

She gave her boss life. Most importantly, Nancy Nearing modeled a behavior consistent with the Great commandment of Jesus. He challenges us to choose between becoming Good Samaritans and become healers, or walk by on the opposite side of the street.                                                                                                                                                    
               1 Quoted from The Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.
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