My mind kept me awake last night. I was mentally scrolling through all the posts, comments, and articles I read yesterday:
(Yes, I agree completely)
(Well, I agree with this statement too…)
“Don’t say #AllLivesMatter. It’s true, but not helpful right now.”
(Ok, I see. The analogy about the burning house…the broken bone…those all make sense.)
“Well, what about the lives of the cops and their families? Don’t their lives matter too?”
(Absolutely their lives matter. What a tragedy it is for anyone to lose a loved one.)
“White friends, we just need you to listen.”
(You’re right. Enough talking. I need to do more listening and hear you. You’re grieving. You’re scared. You fear for your family’s safety. You need people to listen. So I’m listening.)
“White friends, when you don’t speak up and you simply stay silent, you’re taking the side of the powerful, not the powerless.”
(Wait…has my listening come across as having a lack of concern? That’s not what I wanted to communicate. Ok I’ll say something… but what?)
You can imagine my hesitation to say anything, for fear of offending anyone. But I certainly don’t feel comfortable staying silent. Sadly, there’s nothing I can say that won’t offend at least one person…and most likely more than that.
But if I’m going to say something, I want to speak truth. And if I’m going to speak truth, I want it to be rooted in love. So, for the past few days, I’ve been asking myself, “What would Jesus do?” As cliché as that phrase became in the 90s, stitched on wristbands of every color, it’s still a legitimate question. As a believer, I’m called to be like Christ.
So, if Jesus were still walking on this earth, what would he do? Because whatever he would have done, I want to do the same.
I think a story would have been told. As we all stood there, gathered around Jesus, with picketing signs and tear-stained faces, arguing about which voice needs to be heard, one of us would ask Jesus, “Who amongst us is doing the right thing?”
Then Jesus would reply…
“A man (we are purposely not told his race, ethnicity, or religious background) was walking down a road, when he was attacked by some people. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
A religious person (doesn’t matter what religion) happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side, showing no compassion or love and not wanting to get involved.
So too, a Levite (just another person you would expect to do the right thing), when he saw the wounded man, passed by on the other side, showing no compassion or love and not wanting to get involved.
But a Samaritan (this is where you need to think of a type of person/religion/ethnicity/occupation you’ve been guilty of stereotyping before…be honest with yourself), as he traveled, came where the man was. When he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him, cleaned and bandaged his wounds, and gave him some medication to help soothe the pain. Then he transported the injured man to a hotel where he could rest more comfortably. He continued to take care of him throughout the night.
The next day the Samaritan gave most of the money he was carrying with him to the staff member behind the front desk. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expenses that may come up.”
Now, this is when Jesus would ask all of us, “Which of these three men treated this wounded man like his life was worth something and that he deserved to be helped?”
We would all say, “the Samaritan.”
And maybe some of us would have trouble answering that question, not because we don’t know the answer (it’s practically spoon-fed to us), but because it pains us to admit something we don’t want to be true. Maybe the stereotype we have of the Samaritan is so strong and deeply rooted within us that it hurts us to even admit that the person we dislike most is actually the “good guy” in this story.
The black people.
The white people.
Do any of those groups of people make you cringe? Make your skin boil? Make you start to get on the defensive before even a word is spoken? Do you live in fear or suspicion of a person that fits into one of those groups?
Well, that person was the good guy in the story. You know why? Because he showed love and compassion to a person in need.
Fear tells us to protect “our community” -- the people that look like us, think like us, believe like us.
But Jesus tells us to love one another. Not just the ones we feel most comfortable loving, but anyone who is in need of love… which is everyone.
On the flip side, not doing something and not saying anything and not helping someone in need is hateful. Don’t pretend like you don’t see the suffering. Don’t keep walking. Don’t stay silent simply because you don't want to get involved.
The Good Samaritan gave all he had to help a person who needed it. The kindness and mercy shown by the Good Samaritan teaches us that love—not fear—should guide our actions.
Then Jesus tells us, “Go and do likewise.”
And that’s a cause I can stand behind.