Neighbor – Which of the three are we?
What do you think when you hear the following titles?
2. Religious Community Leader
3. African American or another minority in America
Take a second to ponder each of these categories of people and society’s expectations for their actions.
Now, let’s turn our attention to Biblical times. In Luke’s historical context, the following people had this type of significance in society.
Priest (Jewish): A priest was a special man chosen among the descendants of Aaron to preach and perform temple-related duties. Additionally, the priest helped people connect to God and acted as an intercessor between people on earth and God in heaven.
Levite: A Levite was a member of the Levitical tribe and a community of men who were educated and devoted to God. Primarily, they were subordinate to the priest.
Samaritan: In 721 B.C., the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians. Many of the people of Israel were taken captive and sent to Assyria, while some remained in Isreal and intermarried with foreigners. As a result of the intermarrying, the half-Jewish, half-Gentile (non-Jewish) people became known as the Samaritans. The Samaritans, being a mix of already spiritually corrupted Israelites and pagan foreigners, created a religion for themselves that the Jews considered heresy. The Jews and Samaritans hated each other.
After reading this brief background on the characters of this Biblical story, who would you have expected to stop and help a half-beaten man? Most of us would expect our pastors and community leaders to help someone they saw in need. Unfortunately, this story didn't end as we would have expected.
The Biblical story of the Good Samaritan is a great reminder that regardless of our background, race, creed, or upbringing, the Lord can use us. Here are 3 ways we can continue to open our hearts and stand ready for our assignment from Him:
We must slow down enough to take in what is around us each day. Be sensitive to the Spirit of God as He moves us. We must slow down enough to observe those in need, even if only in a small way. Take time enough to see someone in need of gas at the gas station. Consider paying for the car behind us in the drive thru; help someone who may be struggling to put cash together at the grocery store register; pick up something someone dropped, or safely help someone broken down on the side of the road.
We are called to slow down enough to see and slow down enough to give the Lord time to speak to us.
It is not enough to just be thankful for our car, bank account, home, and blessings. We must walk humbly knowing these are all blessings and are to be shared. Ultimately, what we have is not ours; it is the Lord’s. Therefore, we share generously, quickly, openly, and gladly.
At some point in our lives, we all have struggled in one way or another and someone looked out for us. Now, it is our turn. We can all recognize that we are one decision or an unfortunate day/week away from a hard time.
We can decide to live as though those we encounter are our neighbor. What do we do for our actual physical neighbors? We may babysit their kids, cut their grass when they are ill, or get their mail when they are away. With this in mind, we can treat everyday interactions with others as though they are our actual neighbor. This will allow us to be like the good Samaritan, because those we encounter, in their own special way, are no different than our actual neighbors.
How can you be vigilant and open to the Lord using you this week?