Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Questions, Questions, Questions

From time to time I like to write about questions that are asked in the Bible to see what we might be able to learn from them.

Today's question is one asked by Jesus: "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?"

Most of you are familiar with the story about the "Good Samaritan". A Jewish man is walking the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Along the way thieves rob him of his clothing and possessions and leave him wounded and half dead. Both a priest and Levite com along and move to the other side of the road without helping the man. A Samaritan comes along and helps the man with his wounds and pays for his recovery stay at an inn. What's interesting is that the Samaritans were a mixed race that was despised by the Jews and normally they had no dealings with the Jews. But this man stops to help a man who in other circumstances might not give the Samaritan the time of day.

Jesus' question is interesting. Usually when we are discussing this parable we ask people to describe who their neighbor is. The challenge is usually made to help us realize that our neighbor is not only the person that lives next to us but others as well. In this case we are asking people who should be the recipient of our neighborliness. However, that is not the way Jesus asks the question. When he asks it, he is asking us not to identify the recipient, but the giver.

Because of this difference, I take the lesson to be a challenge to be helpful, considerate and caring of others no matter who they are rather than trying to figure out who is our neighbor so we can meet their needs. We have a tendency to procrastinate on doing good because we are spending our time trying to figure out who is our neighbor. Instead, we should be the neighbor to any and all we meet.

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