Who is my neighbor?

I just read this news story on BBC Online: (War Crimes Rampant in Somolia). Turmoil in Somolia I’m not going to post every news post that comes out concerning all the atrocities people face in the world. But as a Christian, and a human being, I am deeply concerned about Justice issues. I feel that most of my life, I have been oblivious to the needs of others, who lack some of the most simple things in life and which this should not be the case; things like education, clean water, a family, or a daily walk outside in open air safe from gunfire. While this has escaped my concern for so long, I am actually grateful for some of the advances in technology and art; mediums through which have the ability to open our eyes. Just take this blog for example: if you have not been reading this, you may not know about what is going on in Somolia, or the rest of Africa right now. And if I hadn’t checked my news feeds from Google, I wouldn’t have either. Also, I can no longer plead ignorance to the fact that right now there are around 300,000 children being coerced, forced or kidnapped to participate in armed conflicts throughout the world as child soldiers, with 200,000 of them being in Africa alone, since I went and saw the latest Leonardo DiCaprio movie, “Blood Diamond.” The technology and cinema of today has made social concern and inescapable reality. But what do I do about it?

Well, Jesus answered this question nearly 2,000 years ago. Jesus taught a parable called “The Good Samaritan.” Perhaps you’ve grown up with this story being told to you by well intentioned parents and teachers as a “why-you-should-be-nice-to-people” story meets lecture. But, that is a sanitized understanding of what Jesus was really communicating. You see, in this Parable, there is a man who has been robbed, beaten and abandoned along a very dangerous road and miles away from any form of help. He was deprived of his material possessions, depleted of his physical strength and means to fend for himself, left alone and in a hostile and distant environment. Now along this road, three different men pass by him. The first two we are told are Jewish – one a priest, the other an assistant to the priests. Both of these men went out of their way to avoid this man who had been left for dead. The next person to come along is a Samaritan man, who attended to the fallen man. Jesus tells us that he not only “came to where he was,” but bandaged his wounds, put him on his donkey, took him to a hotel and took care of him by paying for his stay and any other physical needs he would have. Jesus looks at the crowd around him and asks, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell?”

This parable comes along as some people were attempting to justify themselves and their actions towards others. You see, in Jesus’ day, Jews and Samaritans were as close to each other as oil and water – it didn’t happen. Their attiutde toward each other was one of animosity, not neighborliness. So what Jesus is communicating through this parable is really world-view shattering. It isn’t enough to be a nice, good person. I’m sure the two priests who left the Samartian had good reasons to do so, even if it was self-preservation. But according to Jesus, being a true neighbor to those around you means you take on their concerns at your own expense. It isn’t enough to go about your day when you see the plight of your fellow man around you. What’s even more staggering is that Jesus says that this the key to the fulfilling what God wants of his people – both new and old. The summation of God’s “law” is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, sould, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matthew 22:34-40).

If this is true, and I believe it to be, then how will you and I respond to our “neighbor” in this new Global Village we live in? It isn’t a matter of should we, but are we, and how? I don’t have any answers yet, but we must do something. Jesus and our own humanity prevent us from neglecting this task.

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This entry was posted in Faith, Justice, Reflection and tagged by Chris Gensheer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Gensheer

Husband and father of four, living in Mansfield, TX, serving as Lead Pastor of Christ Church Mansfield. Connect with us at www.christchurchmansfield.com I also provide research and social media consulting work for other pastors, churches, and ministry leaders. Contact me at gensheer@mac.com for more.

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