I just finished reading a piece for my religion class called ‘The Nazareth Manifesto’ by a man called Sam Wells. (One sentence synopsis: he writes about different ways a Christian can respond to the call to engage with other people of different socio-economic and racial backgrounds). At one point in his piece, he talks about the parable of the Good Samaritan. I about jumped out of my skin when I read it because I’ve never heard it explained like this before! DYING.
“We read the parable of the Good Samaritan and we take for granted that we are the Samaritan. We are not the Samaritan! We are the man beaten and bruised by the side of the road. We lack resources, we lack security, we lack everything we need to get to Jericho. We assume the priest and the Levite will give us whatever we need. They have their place, but they’re no use to us on this occasion. The one who offers us salvation is the Samaritan – the stranger, the enemy, the one we assume is out to get us, the one we look down on, the one we wouldn’t dream of living next to, the one we’ve never in our lives eaten a meal with let alone touched, the one who claims to worship the same God but whose religion we despise and whose race we regard as inferior.”
What a curve ball, right? I’ve always read this and assumed my position as the Samaritan- doing good deeds for those in need. But before I can take that position, I need to first understand that the ultimate Good Samaritan – Jesus Christ – saved me on the side of the road when I was bruised and beaten and hopeless. When I grasp that Jesus helped me when I had absolutely nothing to give in return, I am freed to help others without expecting anything in return. I am only able to be a Good Samaritan once I understand that I am also (even primarily) the poor and needy man on the side of the road.
Are you kidding me? I feel like I just read this story for the first time.