There have been a couple of things happening in and around the country that had me thinking about how we relate to each other. What are appropriate responses in different situations. How do our personal values, morals or ethic dictate that. Having grown up in a Christian home, the challenge for me has always been how to reconcile my beliefs with the world I live in everyday. As anyone of any faith would know, that's not always an easy thing to do. Well, while I was pondering all these many things, a rather strange idea came into my head. My husband would argue, that this in itself is not such a strange occurrence. I'm sure, from his perspective, there are nothing BUT strange ideas in my head ... but I digress. An old bible story came to mind, and I wondered what it would sound like, if Jesus had to tell that same story to an audience in 2012. What would the characters look like? Who would play the part of the Samaritan? As any good writer knows, one needs to do research. Not being a particularly good writer, this was new to me, but I figured I should probably start with the original story. In reading the story, I was surprised by a couple of things: 1. The question the preceded the telling of the story; and 2. Jesus' response to the questions before telling the story ...
The first question was, "How do I receive Eternal Life" or "How do I get to Heaven?". Jesus' response was to ask the man, who is described as being an expert in the law, what he thought it meant. The man replied it meant to love God with everything, to serve Him with everything and to love your neighbor like you would yourself. Jesus was impressed with the man's reply and told him he had answered correctly. Then something interesting happens. In the New International version of the Bible, it says, "by the man, seeking to justify himself" and in The Message it says, "looking for a loophole the man said." Interesting don't you think? The guy had answered correctly the first time, but deciding he needed some kind of exemption from all that meant, asked Jesus to define the term "neighbor". It's that question of defining "neighbor" that started the story. What follows, is my version of a 2012 reboot of the Good Samaritan.
A sales man was driving down a quiet desert road. He'd been traveling for many hours and was very tired. His eyes got heavy and he veered off the road hitting a utility post. Much later a church group drove by. They were on their way home from a retreat and running very late. It was getting dark and they wanted to reach the next fueling station before it got too late. They decided not to stop, but did try to call 911. Unfortunately, the accident was in a "dead zone". No one seemed to have a carrier that could find any signal. They decided to drive on to the filling station and call for help from a landline. They drove on without stopping. Hours later a lawyer drove by, but not wanting to get dragged into legal matters and also unable to find signal on his cell phone, he decided to drive on. After all he didn't have training in basic medical aid and he could end up harming the person in his attempt to help him and end up being sued. Who wants to deal with that? So he drove on, confident that somebody else had already seen the accident would've reported it by now. It was completely dark when the next man drove passed. At first he wasn't sure what it was he had seen. As it was a quiet desert road, he decided to put the car in reverse to get a better look. He was horrified by what he saw. The driver of the crashed car, was slumped over the steering wheel. His head was covered in blood. He seemed to be trapped in his vehicle. The man went back to his car and asked his passenger to come help him get the man out the car. It was a struggle, but they were able to free him. They both worked at cleaning the wounds they could see, putting compression on injuries to stop the bleeding as best they could. After they were satisfied that he was stable enough to move, they put the man on the backseat of their car and drove as fast as they could to the next town to find an ER. On arriving, the passenger jumped out and ran in to get help for the injured man on the back seat. A gurney was brought out as ER staff whisked the man back to work on him. The nurse at the admissions desk came out to ask them if they knew the man. Did he have any insurance? He had extensive injuries and would need surgery. The driver of the car explained that they didn't know the man and so couldn't verify if he had insurance, but handed over his credit card and told the nurse to use the card for the surgery and any other treatment the man would need. The nurse was stunned explaining that his medical bill could run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The man nodded and said he understood completely. He wanted to make sure the man had the best chance to survive and so to ensure that, he would pay for the medical costs. She thanked them, made note of the credit card, and watched as the two tuxedoed men walked into the waiting room. Hours later the doctor came in to tell the them that the man was going to make it. The men thanked him and then the doctor asked, "You look like you were on your way to a party."
The first man replied, "We were on our way to our honeymoon."
There is no loophole. Everyone is our neighbor. We should be treating everyone the way we would like to be treated: With kindness, mercy, respect, consideration and love. If we are going to err, why not err on the side of love.
*The original bible story can be found here.