Today is our last post (for now!) on the adventures or misadventures of the Good Samaritan Cycling Team. And after spending some time sharing stories and thinking through lessons learned it seems appropriate that we would go back to the source:
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “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, 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.”
Much ink has been spilled concerning this parable, and I do not intend to add anything new today. I simply want to ask a few questions of us. They are the same questions that I have found directed at me in my attempts to serve the homeless and struggling over the last few months.
1. What is it in our lives that makes it difficult for us to show mercy? Are we too busy? Are we afraid of the person in need? Do they make us feel insecure? Is it uncomfortable? Can we see those in need, or are we to preoccupied? If we can be brave enough to name the problem, then we can begin working towards a solution.
2. If the problem is busyness or preoccupation (I know this is one I struggle with), then what is the relationship between our self-centeredness and the ability to show mercy? Do we really believe that our schedule or our priorities or our little world's are more important than another person made in God's image? Can we put on paper what our priorities are, and then ask if we are actually following them?
3. If the problem is fear or insecurity, are we afraid based on personal experience, or because of what we've seen on tv, or the internet, or from others? What is the interaction between our trust in God and our fear of the other in need? Are there ways we can show mercy in a secure way, if the insecurity is reasonable?
3. Is our first instinct to judge the person in need ("the dummy should have never taken the road to Jericho by himself!") or to simply the see the need and move closer, without worrying about who or what is at fault?
The biggest lesson I have learned in my few months serving with GSCT is that these decisions and attitudes have to be made daily. I know if I do not actively choose to pursue mercy then I will default to the setting of the world around me . . . which is selfishness, rationalized by judgment, false priorities, and empty promises for "next time". My prayer for myself, for Burning Bush Communities, and for you fearless reader, is that each of us would determine each day before the need arises to show mercy to our neighbors (and perhaps even our families and friends!) so that when the moment is right we can respond as the Samaritan did.