You ever run across a bible lesson thinking it basic in nature only to have a point in life that takes you back to its words making you feel as if it has hit you over the top of the head, forcing realization that there is way more to it than originally thought? Take for instance the parable of the Good Samaritan. Many of us were taught this lesson as a child sitting in Sunday school. It is a simple lesson on loving your neighbor, responding to their needs, and being kind. Anyone can and does do it – right? Sure, at first blush it appears elementary – if you see someone lying next to the road near death, who wouldn’t stop to help? AND – how offensive and hypocritical is it to think that a Priest and Levite of all people would see it acceptable to walk past a person in such dire need. If anything is worthy of throwing a stone this has to be it, right? YES – It seems that way until you sit and perform a little self-reflection. Transparency in this process shows us – ‘No, I haven’t and wouldn’t walk past a person physically lying on the side of the road.’ BUT I have however, walked past plenty engaged in emotional battles that have left them tired, wounded, and spiritually dead, that are just waiting for someone to walk by to pull them from the pit and provide direction as to where to find healing for their emotional wounds. In those moments, in these actions, I confess I have been exactly like the Priest and Levite. Some of them, their situations – I have faced that same thing and through the grace of God prevailed, yet, out of self-absorption, busyness, misperceptions, preoccupation, convenience, whatever it may be, I chose not to stop and help and in doing so unintentionally choose the role of the Priest and Levite making me wonder, how often have I done this? How often do WE do this and don’t even realize it?
Recently, God was gracious enough to provide me an opportunity to change my thinking and apply this parable thus reinforcing its power. I know someone going through a great deal of emotional pain. They came to me in confidence confessing sin and shame, and truthfully, my initial thought for response was, ‘I told you what to do, and you didn’t do it,’ and to simply walk away. I was frustrated with them – but before those words passed from my lips, and before I could act the role of the Priest and Levite, I felt God impress upon me to be still and just listen. It is for that impression that I am so thankful because it gave the opportunity to love my ‘neighbor’ in the midst of their sin and shame and help lift them from the emotional beating they were experiencing. In that moment of stillness God gave me words of hope to encourage them that even in our sin God’s love remains, and His arms are still stretched open wide in wait for us to repent so He can heal our pain and emotional wounds. In responding this way, you could feel the tension melt, and hope shine through as they explained the hurtful unexpected reaction they had experienced from others and their thankfulness for simple words of encouragement.
You see, there is more to this parable than loving the neighbor that sits in visible need. We live in a world where emotional health is a battlefield, and we walk among a people that are waging a mental and spiritual battle every day, one that we are often times unable to identify from the outside, and may not even realize exists. The message this parable brings to us is our call to be the Good Samaritan and to realize the power and healing that can be unleashed when we choose to take time and quite simply love. Let us take time, be more intentional, and become more aware of the seen and unseen needs of those we encounter. May we allow ourselves to be the conduit of healing unleashed by answering the call to be the Good Samaritan.