Here is a sentence that you can complete: The last person on earth that I would consider to be a good example for others to follow is . . .
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all you mind; and your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus said to him, “You have answered well; do this and you will live.” He asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, ‘A man fell into the hands of robbers, who beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Also, when a Levite came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, while traveling saw him and was moved with pity. He helped him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, took him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two days’ wages, and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; when I come back, I will repay you whatever you spend. Which of these three was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus replied, ‘Go and do likewise.’”
Consider the opinion you have of the person whose name is in the blank. It is probably about the same view as that of the Jews for the Samaritans. They truly despised them. To the Jews, the Samaritans were the lowlifes of the earth. Yet Jesus uses a Samaritan in his illustration. The good Samaritan is a role model of how we should care for one another. We all find ourselves at different times in need of help, of love, of understanding, and of compassion. Jesus has the uncanny strength to use the most unlikely people as models of faithfulness. And so does God! How on earth could God pick a poor speaker to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt? How on earth could God pick a young shepherd boy to slay the giant Goliath? The Samaritan in this parable was so despised by the Jews, yet he was the one who took the time, stopped to help the beaten man upon the road, and demonstrated the most Christ-like, unconditional love. The priest and the Levite couldn’t pull it off. They couldn’t be the hands and feet of God. It is easy to say that you will do something, but God is interested in the people that will actually go out and do something for God. Let’s all build upon the premise that we will do more than just talk, that we’ll put our money where our mouth is. Look again at the beginning of this article, and pray for the name of the person that you identified in the blank. Perhaps that person is praying for you. We all can be surprised.
Pastor Brent Hanna
Knoxville First United Methodist Church
Columbia United Methodist Church