Insights: Like a Good Neighbor | Religion
This passage of scripture is given to us to show Jesus’ call to serve all who need help. Whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. All people are our neighbors.
By using a Samaritan as his “hero” in this story, Jesus is clearly going to great lengths to show who our neighbor is and what we are called to do. A Samaritan in Jesus’ time was someone a Hebrew would never associate with – they were considered unclean as a people; not loyal both to the Jewish nation as a whole and to religious and national laws; and were expelled from the Jewish temple.
Let’s look at who Jesus was talking to first, he was talking to the Pharisees and the lawyers. They wanted him to tell them who their neighbors were because he had said to love your neighbors as you love yourself. They were testing him as usual to see what he would say, hoping to trip him up. Jesus was very harsh with these people, they judged and controlled the religious and political situation in Israel. They had no desire to lose control of the power they wielded.
This parable may have been how Jesus killed two birds with one stone.
1) He made it clear with this illustration that the Jewish leaders weren’t very loving or didn’t care much for the common person – he uses a Pharisee and a Levite priest as the villains in this story – he wasn’t trying to make friends here!
2) He used the Samaritan – someone despised and shunned – as the good guy. I wonder if he was leading them down the path that would come after his death and ascension where the opportunity to be a child of God was given to all people. Jesus came primarily to bring the Jews back to God, but when they rejected and crucified him, he made it clear that his grace and salvation were for all.
So who is our neighbor? Someone who is in need! Someone we meet, no matter where we live, work or play, who needs help. People!
How do you love someone else like you love yourself? Maybe a better question would be, “How do we love each other?” We provide food, transportation, rent and utilities, warm beds with blankets, and many other things life requires. We are used to taking care of ourselves, but if we let God provide for us, then we have a lot to give to others in need.
Then there are the other means that we procure. We seek friendship, encouragement, fun and growth – spiritually and emotionally. There are so many lonely people in our community who need a friend! So maybe loving our neighbors as ourselves isn’t as vague as it might be. Throughout the New Testament we see writings that encourage us to help others, and in doing so, we serve Jesus. In many ways, this is one of the easiest ways to serve the Lord. It also provides a way to share your faith in a non-threatening way with those you meet along the way.
I think we have to be determined in this! It’s hard to reach out if you never go out into your neighborhood or recognize those we work with or see throughout our days who might need help in some way or other. another one. We live among people who are hurting, lonely, anxious, depressed and struggling financially who need to hear from the Lord and we are the ones who accepted that calling when we became Christians. Accepting the gift of Salvation opens the door to serving our God who calls us to serve others and to share the Good News in word and deed.
Lisa Scarborough is the Executive Director of Love In Action.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.