Saturday, December 29, 2012

Who is Your Neighbor?

  My wife has much to give you in terms of perspective from a wife's, woman's and mother's point of view in adjusting to what I like to call 'real world' or practical faith. The below is an excellent study for those who have somewhat of a myopic point of view not due to their intelligence but their training and environment. What follows is a breath of fresh and clean air that will provide a new perspective for you if you are in any state concerning a dysfunfunctional religious group: entrnched, questioning, extrication or recovery. This is a good place to start a new year.
I am grateful and proud to have her as my wife and what follows is some of the best work we have tried to relay to you.

                                                                           by Vicki Flynn

The illustration of “The Good Samaritan” has been referred to by many scholars as a parable that Jesus used to teach about loving our neighbor. But if we look at the more extensive context of why Jesus was even using this illustration, we may find a more allegorical use of the story.

This is exciting to me because Jesus not only teaches about compassion involving  an individual who is regarded as an infidel outside of the Jewish faith, but also by showing this type of unconditional compassion, this individual is meeting the main objective of eternal life.

The allegorical view is vital to undermining and even tearing down one of the more vicious doctrines that is common among DRGs (Dysfunctional Religious Group). The doctrine that sets the requirements of who qualifies to be called our neighbor, and what determines the way others are treated is a fundamental one.

The story of the Good Samaritan, Luke10: 30-37, actually begins in the 25th verse.

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he (Jesus) replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

So the lawyer has his answer, but needed to push a little bit further. Verse 29 – notes that the lawyer was wishing to justify himself by asking Jesus who his neighbor was. More than likely he already had a preconceived idea, identifying his neighbor as those like himself, pious and religious, who lived in the same proximity to the law as he did, excluding those of different race, religion and social standing.                                 

A DRGs neighbor includes, as the lawyer, those who pay homage to their law (the leader of the group) and excludes all who are not fellow members and practitioners of their doctrine, which is pretty much all of mankind.

“And who is my neighbor?”  The question is a crucial one in that the answer determines the lawyer’s eternal state. But isn’t the question being asked for all of us?  Who is our neighbor?                                                                    This brings us to verse 30 and to Jesus telling the story of the Good Samaritan.

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Ironically the priest and the Levite were the ones who the lawyer would’ve claimed as being in his same circle. The Samaritan, however, the one who was considered unclean, is the one who Jesus uses in the story that shows compassion on the beaten man and the one we are to emulate.

33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.

 35 The next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Not only did the kind Samaritan take care of the wounded man’s immediate need, but he made sure that his future state was taken care of as well. In a broader, allegorical sense, the wounded traveler represents mankind and the Samaritan represents Jesus. Interesting that Jesus would use someone that was hated by the Jews to show compassion to a Jew in contrast to the Jewish priest and Levite who left the man for dead.

How does this undermine a DRG’s teaching? Specifically, in the group I was in, evangelism to the “outside” world was considered to be the same as casting pearls before swine. The hurting, the sinner, and even a Christian that had different beliefs were treated in the same manner as the priest and Levite treated the beaten man. Yet Jesus shows that the Samaritan, the very type that is considered the epitome of outsiders, was the true neighbor.

In verse 36, Jesus asks the lawyer who proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robber’s hands. Verse 37, the lawyer answers, “The one who showed mercy toward him, (he wouldn’t even mention the name Samaritan). Then Jesus says, “Go and do the same.”

Remember, the original question was, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Needless to say the parable of “The Good Samaritan” is not taught in DRGs. The very nature of this story is the antithesis of what a DRG represents at its very core, which is to listen to the law (from the leader of the group), perform the law (do what he says) and keep the law within the confines of the group.  Jesus’ intention of representing mankind through the man that was beaten and left for dead is not only ignored it is shrunken and molded into an entropic doctrine.

What shall we do to inherit eternal life? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself.

 It is time for us to ask the question, “Who is my neighbor?”




1 comment:

  1. When I attempted to bring up scriptures such as the good samaritan, the lost sheep, and the lost coin, I was told I "didn't get it" or was "missing it." Thankfully, the Lord protected my thoughts from being squelched and preserved his words within my heart. I am now free to love and serve the lost and the hurting, as Jesus commanded us to do.
    Read Matthew 25:31-40 and Matthew 9:10-13 and ask the actions that are being promoted by your leaders look more like the Pharisees or Jesus himself?