Who Is My Neighbor?

In Luke 10, our Lord and Savior told the following story:

A Jewish man was going down from Jerusalem to Lebanon, and he fell among members of ISIS, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a preacher was going down that road to a church conference, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a church elder, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But an atheist, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when we saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on peroxide and Neosporin. Then he put him in the backseat of his Prius and brought him to a hospital and saw to it that he received medical care. And the next day he took out a few $100s and gave them to the attending physician, saying, "Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back."

Which one of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the members of ISIS?

If you are offended that I took so many blatant liberties with the biblical text, I apologize. But I don't think I'm far off.

Note that, in the original story, Jesus did the following:

  1. He used an all-too-common episode of violence (robbers on the road to Jericho) as the catalyst for the story.
  2. He cast two prominent religious figures as inhuman and uncaring as they "passed on the other side."
  3. He chose a spiritual/cultural reprobate (Samaritan) as the hero and as one who demonstrated the epitome of compassion and Christian love.
  4. He portrayed the reprobate as going above and beyond what was expected, and at great personal threat to himself (robbers could have attacked him as well; a man leading a donkey carrying a wounded person can't travel very fast).

All this to say, maybe Christians shouldn't be so vocal about refusing Syrian refugees. If our government refuses them entrance into our nation or state, fine. If they do grant entrance, we as Christians should be the first to welcome them and minister to their needs, especially their spiritual ones.

What needs to stop is the fear-mongering and xenophobia. Not all who question the wisdom of allowing Syrian refugees to come to our shores are fearful or xenophobic—I get that. But some of us are, and we need to repent.

The world is watching us, church. The world is watching. We have been shoved to the margins of cultural relevance. Truth, sadly, is no longer a strong selling point. So how do we let our light shine in moments like these? We serve as beacons of love—a love that bears, believes, hopes, and endures ALL THINGS."

A love, so one former-terrorist once wrote, that never fails.

Perhaps instead of asking, "Who are the terrorists?" Christians should be asking themselves at this moment, "Who is my neighbor?"

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