Today’s Word from Pastor Eric…
I was pondering the parable of the Good Samaritan this morning, and I remember a presentation in my first year of work as a pastor made by a leader of the Salvation Army. It was eye-opening to me because he focused on the man in the ditch, and not the Good Samaritan as is usually the case when I have heard others preach on this parable. Why focus on the man in the ditch, because the only thing we know about him is he was in a bad way?
That was precisely this man’s focus because the man in the ditch was the point. No one who passed him by knew who he was or what he did. He could have been a Jew or gentile, maybe even a priest in the temple. He could have been a Sadducee or a Pharisee or a Roman, for that matter. That is his significance to those hearing the story, for those who passed by prejudged him by their own ideas of what and who he was and how that might affect them.
Maybe some did not want to bother with him, as I know I have done more than once when approached on the street for spare change. Some might have thought he was dead and didn’t want to touch him, for if they did their Jewish laws said they would be unclean, and could not serve or worship in the temple until they cleansed themselves through certain rituals and offerings. The point I am making is one that touches home with me. How often have I judged a person or situation by a few people I did not care for or disagreed with? Too often, I am afraid.
Jesus was pointing out that living by rules alone, or judging others by our opinion of them, does not take into account God’s willingness to forgive us even when we have done egregious things. Judging a group by a few examples and throwing away that whole group as not worthy of our concern is not in keeping with Christ’s way of life. For instance: all demonstrators are violent looters. Democrats and Republicans are all the same. Dismissing those we don’t like or disagree with is too simple and certainly doesn’t fit with the teachings of our Lord.
Where is love in all of this judging? Where is God in all this judging? I am reminded of what one theologian said: Imagine everyone has a sign on their back which says THIS IS GOD’S PROPERTY.