The Other Side of the Road
November 3, 2015
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” -Luke 10:29-37 (NIV)
A pastor friend and I were walking to a restaurant for lunch in downtown Denver. On the way we were petitioned by numerous homeless folks, but being accustomed to it we just kept on walking. We got to the stoplight and one women was a bit more insistent, “Can you spare a buck for a cup of coffee?” My friend and I kept on talking, ignoring the plea. “Well, the least you could do is acknowledge I’m here…”
The irony strikes me… I walk into a restaurant in a strange town by myself because I’m traveling… waiting for the person to come and seat me, but she’s busy serving folks and visiting… a local comes in and stops and she immediately looks up and waves them to a table… I am livid and while I should probably just turn and walk out, I have to open my mouth and give her a piece of my mind (which we all know I can’t afford to spare) about being decent!
Of course my friend and I ignore her remark too, even though it stings a little. We justify it in our conversation about there being so many of these folks and somebody ought to do something about it… If you give to one where does it stop and such other rationalizations that we can feel better about ourselves…
I listened to a story one time of a manager who had to discipline an individual for taking advantage of others. The worker was constantly expecting others to carry the load and ignoring the problems her inattention to detail was causing for others in the organization. This worker was very social and well liked, but as the manager laid out the concerns it suddenly struck her and she began to blubber “but I always thought I was nice!”
Of course our rationalizations were true…but then again… I don’t think I could identify myself as the Samaritan that day. And yet, I always thought of myself as a good Samaritan. I wonder, is there a way to cross back over to the other side of the road and offer some assistance?
Prayer: Lord, forgive us of our propensity to justify our inattention to others and our focus upon our own lives. Help us to be neighbor to those around us, if only by acknowledging their presence… the lovely and the unlovely… in order that all may know they are loved. Amen.
Reverend Dr. Steve Van Ostran