Valentine’s day is coming up this month. It is a day where we think about love, and showing each other that we care about them. There are many ways that we can do this. Many send cards, chocolate, flowers, and other gifts. Buying gifts is one way to do this. There is another way to show love too, in our actions towards each other. An example of this is shown in the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[a] “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii,[b] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
First, lets talk about what we don’t see happen to this man, lying on the side of the road. The first 2 people to passed by this man. The first one was a priest, a Jewish religious leader. We expect him to stop. We expect him to show compassion on this poor man. But no. He sees the man, realizes he is too busy, crosses the street, and keeps on walking, forgetting all about him. There comes a Levite, an assistant to a priest. We expect him to stop. Once again no. He again sees the man, and crosses the street, and keeps on walking. This story specifically tells us that both these men noticed him, but neither one would stop to help one of their own Jewish brothers in need. We don’t know why they didn’t stop, but we know they keep walking.
Finally, someone else comes down the road. It’s a Samaritan. This is the worst possible person. From other stories, it is obvious that the Jewish people and the Samaritans did not get along very well. We expect this traveler to do many different things. We expect him to just keep walking, like the others. We expect him to laugh at the man. We expect him to finish off what the robbers had begun. At that moment, it would have been easy. What we see is unexpected. He cares for the man’s wounds and bandages him up. He loads the man on his own animal, and leads him to an inn. He pays for this stranger’s stay, and for someone to care for him. He even offers to come back, and pay more money his next time through, if that is needed. Which of these 3 acted like a neighbor? It is obviously, the third. Jesus closes by saying “go, and do likewise”
How sad it is that in 2019 we are still surprised by the outcome of this story. What the Samaritan does is still unexpected. Many times, it is easier for me to just keep going rather than stopping to help someone who needs it. But Jesus calls us, to go, and use the Samaritan as an example.
Through my years at Bdecan, I have seen something time and time again. This congregation may do things differently than others. They may eat different things or sing in a different language. But repeatedly, I see that we have way more similarities than we have differences. One of my favorite moments is when individuals and teams realize this, that they are people like us. That what they desire most, is what everyone wants, to be valued, to be accepted, to be loved.
I love people and teams coming to Bdecan, and would love for you to come and see what we do. Know that ministry doesn’t end here though. My guess is that many of you have neighbors in need in your home communities, or at least closer to you than we are. Although we are separated by miles, we have the same mission, to go out, and love our neighbors.
You may be able to do what the Samaritan did. If you cannot, there is still plenty you can do. Get a group together to help serve a meal to those in need. Give those things that you no longer use away to those who may need it more than you do. Go and hold the door to someone whose arms are full. Mostly, just go and be present. Listen to someone’s story who isn’t being heard. Go and be LOVE.
In this month where we are constantly talking about love, my hope is that we continue going out, and showing God’s love to others. Showing love in what we say, and what we do. My hope is that the more and more that we go out in love, the more and more regular it becomes. It is then that the Good Samaritans actions will be less unexpected, and be more of an everyday thing.
Blessings to you all!
Bdecan Presbyterian Church
My name is Joe Obermeyer. I was the Youth and Outreach Coordinator at Bdecan Presbyterian Church from 2013 to 20202.