The Good Samaritan
I consider myself a pretty nice, compassionate person. I care about people. I’m a pretty nice guy in general. Or so I thought.
And so whenever I read the story of the Good Samaritan, I’ve always assumed that when confronted with a similar situation, I’ll be like the Good Samaritan, who stopped to care for the person in need. Without a doubt. Or so I thought.
Why did the priest and the Levite simply walk past the wounded man by the side of the road? Certainly, there is a possibility that they were just cruel, mean people who don’t care about the hurting. But they know the Law, and there are Old Testament laws that talk about loving your neighbor and your enemies (Exodus 23:3-4, Leviticus 19:9-18 and 25:35-38 are just a few examples).
I propose this: the priest and the Levite were too busy and preoccupied by their plan and schedule, and they saw this person lying on the side of the road as a distraction and hindrance to what they had in mind. They were heading to Jerusalem! Perhaps they had things to attend to there. Perhaps they had places to go, people to minister to, and sacrifices to make.
The sad truth, though, is that they missed out on being God’s hands and feet to this poor man on the side of the road. Their preoccupation with their meetings, schedules, and plans hindered them from being used to minister to someone who needed an extension of God’s grace.
Recently, I was in Nashville for a fun weekend with a group of guys. It was supposed to be a good time of fellowshipping and enjoying each other’s company, while eating freaking delicious food, taking in the sights of the city, and getting to know one another better. [I fell in love with the city of Nashville during the course of several days — but that’s irrelevant to this post.]
In the afternoon, we were hanging around a park taking photos when a young man named M struck a conversation with us. He was carrying around a flag with a cannibis symbol on it. He approached us and asked where we were from, and provided us unsolicited recommendations about places to go in Nashville.
I’m sure this guy had no ill will towards us whatsoever. Perhaps he was just trying to be nice. But to me, this guy was an annoyance, a bothersome inconvenience in our packed plan. I had more places to visit, more photos to take, more places to go (like a bathroom and a water fountain, for example).
My brother D saw it differently. He recognized it as an opportunity to share the Gospel. He eagerly engaged him in conversation and began to ask about his involvement with the legalization movement, with hopes of finding a hook through which he could share about Jesus. Not interested in this conversation and knowing that this was about to be a long, long exchange, I left to look for a bathroom and visited a nearby museum instead.
In hindsight, I missed an opportunity to partner in the work that God was doing. Even if I didn’t stick around to engage in the conversation, I could have at least interceded on D’s behalf, praying that God would empower him to speak God’s Word into M’s life. Instead, I mindlessly attended to my own affairs. In the meantime, D shared the Gospel to M and led him to recommit his life to Christ. In the middle of a random park in Nashville! Imagine that.
Oh yes, thank God that He redeemed the situation, because no one can thwart the plan He has. Yet still, I recognize now that I missed out on an opportunity to be used by God to minister to His people and to be His hands and feet to someone who needed to see His grace tangibly. My preoccupation with my neat little “schedule” hindered me from loving my neighbor as Jesus had called me to. I am exactly like the priest and the Levite, who saw unplanned ministry opportunities as bothersome to my packed schedule than as a tangible way to show God’s grace.
I need to learn what it looks like to truly be a Good Samaritan.
M & D in conversation (faces have been blurred to protect the identity of these brothers)
D - If you’re reading this, thanks for reminding me what it means to be a Good Samaritan. A crown is waiting for you! :D