(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
The church, the Scribe and the Good Samaritan
19th June 2010
I recently took a fresh look at the parable of the Good Samaritan. I saw that it applies not only to individual people but also to the church. It starts with a question:
The church, more than anyone, should be expert in the law of God. Romans 6v14 says "you are not under law, but under grace" and some Christians make the mistake of imagining that this means the law doesn't matter, but we who love God should be careful to keep His law. And the two most important commands are "Love God" and "Love your neighbour".
The church can often make the same mistake that this scribe does, when he asks Jesus "who is my neighbour?" He was trying to reduce his responsibility in keeping God's law, and so do we. We probably know this passage of Scripture well enough not to ask the question out loud, or in these words, but we are often guilty of loving each other while ignoring those who are different from us. As Jesus says elsewhere:
Jesus replies by telling the famous story of the Good Samaritan, in which religious people, symbolic of the church, ignored the person in need and "passed by on the other side".
This is God's call to the church: to refuse to pass by on the other side. To tend the needs of all who are suffering. To have pity. To bandage the wounds of others. To take care of those in pain. To give of our time, emotion and money for those in need.
Jesus then brough the message home to the scribe, demanding an answer to the question:
And so must we. We must follow in the footsteps of the One who said:
That's our job now. Our function in life is to love God and to do good to all who need it. All who hurt, all who are lost, all who need God's love and healing power can find that love and power through the church, and nowhere else.
People hurt for all sorts of reasons: through sickness, through abuse, through demons, through the sins of others and through their own sin. People hurt in their bodies, in the minds, and in their hearts. Most of all, people hurt because they're alienated from God.
The church is called to be the Good Samaritan, the one who cares enough to act. But we can't achieve our mission in our own strength. God gives us His Holy Spirit to help us to help others, and we need His power.