Are you a Good Samaritan?
The Good Samaritan... We have all heard this story over and over. It is a favorite to teach young children. Do we truly understand what it means to help someone who is "not part of us?"
Wanting to justify himself, he questioned Jesus further, saying, “What do you mean by ‘my neighbor’?”
Jesus replied, “There was once a Jewish man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when bandits robbed him along the way. They beat him severely, stripped him naked, and left him half dead.
“Soon, a Jewish priest walking down the same road came upon the wounded man. Seeing him from a distance, the priest crossed to the other side of the road and walked right past him, not turning to help him one bit.
“Later, a religious man, a Levite, came walking down the same road and likewise crossed to the other side to pass by the wounded man without stopping to help him.
“Finally, another man, a Samaritan, came upon the bleeding man and was moved with tender compassion for him. He stooped down and gave him first aid, pouring olive oil on his wounds, disinfecting them with wine, and bandaging them to stop the bleeding. Lifting him up, he placed him on his own donkey and brought him to an inn. Then he took him from his donkey and carried him to a room for the night. The next morning he took his own money from his wallet and gave it to the innkeeper with these words: ‘Take care of him until I come back from my journey. If it costs more than this, I will repay you when I return.’ So, now, tell me, which one of the three men who saw the wounded man proved to be the true neighbor?”
The religious scholar responded, “The one who demonstrated kindness and mercy.”
Jesus said, “Go and do the same as he.” (The Passion Translation)
I was part of some discussions the other day that revolved around MLKJ day. We were challenged to think about those who have been mistreated. I agree that mistreatment has happened over the years. I agree that changes need to be made. What bothers me is, we are focusing on the past. Yes, it still happens today. But, Christians mistreat so many people around them. Christians judge the Jews. Christians judge those who don't go to church. Christians judge those who challenge what has been "traditions" for years. There is so much in the present that we are not willing to look at it.
Having lived in Israel, I know the looks and responses I get today when I mention that was my home for years. I experience my own form of "mistreatment" because of thought processes I have because of what I learned while I lived there. In the discussions we had, I mentioned that religious groups are the worst for judging. Religion causes people to think they are "right" and when they are "right" there isn't the ability to have empathy with those around them.
"Sympathy involves understanding from your own perspective. Empathy involves putting yourself in the other person's shoes and understanding WHY they may have these particular feelings. ... Sympathy’s favorite expression is “poor you”. It creates a sense of pity over the plight of the person. Empathy’s favorite expression is “I can understand how it feels. It must be really hard”. (psychiatric medical care website).
I think that too often we have sympathy, but what we really need to have is empathy. Sympathy can often be demeaning to a person. It is a "poor you" mentality. We need to find a way to show empathy and try to understand where they are in their walk. The two should work together as we help someone.
The Good Samaritan showed sympathy by taking care of the Jewish man. He also showed empathy because he seemed to understand what the Jewish man felt. The Samaritans were often pushed aside and not valued. They were looked at as different and "less than." He knew how the Jewish man felt and he took care of him. No judging because of what happened in the past, he took care of what needed to be taken care of in the present.
This is how we need to live. We need to live in the present and take care of those around us who need help now. We need to be their "Good Samaritan" and find a way to love on them and show kindness and mercy. Are you ready to love someone who is different than you? Are you ready to love someone who might not be kind, but needs to know God's love?
These are just some thoughts that have been running around in my mind. There is a lot I could say and continue to talk through. It's hard to write everything... I'm not trying to judge. That is not my heart. I'm writing from things that are spinning around in my brain. I simply write to put out what I'm observing. Doesn't mean I am right. I'm as open and broken as the next person and in my brokenness I will experience and feel things that may not be what others do.
Anyway... I pray that today you find a way to empathize with someone you may not understand. I pray that you can find a way to share HIS LOVE with someone that you never thought you would. That will make the world a better place.
Love and blessings,