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Parable of the Good Samaritan: 13th Century Stained Glass, France

“And who is my neighbor?”

Just as in ancient times, we have our own set of social norms, classifications of the “most despised” and often we discriminate against those that look different from us.

We are living in the age of the modern good Samaritan.

To understand who plays the role of the modern Samaritan, we have to first understand who Jesus tasked to play the role in this parable.

Context matters.

Jesus begins to tell a story of a gentleman robbed, beaten & left bloody along the roadside of travel. Several pass by the gentleman on their journey – from a priest to average Jewish civilians.

I’m sure you’ve heard this tale – it’s a common Sunday School story that I heard a time or two. And, it’s a story out of many that you can miss the deeper meaning on what Jesus meant by “helping thy neighbor.”

Jesus’ story is an answer to the question on how to inherit eternal life.

“To love your neighbor,” but to whom is your neighbor…

This is when Jesus tells a story in context to the cultural times he lived in – enter a Jewish gentleman robbed and left for dead. In this time period, Jews & Samaritans did not mix. They despised each other.

The parable message here is that there isn’t one set class or person who is more deserving of your love than others. We must set aside ill will and move past what our surroundings tell us to do God’s work.

Now, fast-forward to 2017 & using cultural context answer –  “Who is your neighbor?”

Hint: Refugees, blacks, latinos, lgbqt+ community – the minorities, who according to the context of our current culture are not to be “mixed” with the majority. Not deserving of grace, mercy, etc…

I love the Bible for a multitude of reasons, but the first is this:

It is just as applicable to our current culture as it was then, but context matters. Don’t just agree to the text at surface level – dig deep!

I say all of this in response to a status I saw from a member of the queer community. He reminded me of what the Samaritan probably felt like traveling in a land where he knew he wasn’t wanted or that most did not have good will toward him.

This must be how many of our black brothers & sisters feel when being pulled over by the police or how our queer community members react to having their right to adopt or love another in pure intentionality stripped.

And, yet, at the end of the day – the Samaritan decided to leave his fears & embark on helping another as equal.

Here is shortened version of this status:

“In all honesty, when I’m alone… I constantly wonder and worry about the outside world. Why are people like me hated? Why is it that people like me and other minorities are so despised? Why am I afraid to be in public? Why am I afraid to be myself in everyday life?”

Here is my response in full:

Culture conditioning is a habit to break & not an easy one. I think many of us carry and harbor such emotions & thoughts. Many ignore them or don’t speak them out loud. So, commend yourself for acknowledging those truths. That’s powerful stuff. We are not hated by every person, but media and actions by those in particular settings do give us a ground to feed into that thought. Are we oppressed, marginalized, taking advantage of and not seen for our entire person? Yes, of course, but not by every being – and certainly that isn’t our only story line. That is the beginning thread of our story – every group – black, brown, so on, has an oppression – what you choose to do with that defines how you feel, move and create change in the world. It is true you can not change anyone but yourself – so start there and then have elevated discussions, be fearless in your pursuit of happiness and then fight injustice with loving truth. These elements help you begin to see and have safety in uncomfortable & comfortable spaces.

The fact that I have to say this is in suggestion we need more modern day good Samaritans. We need more people, myself included, taking Jesus’ parable into the context of our cultural environments today.

And, if the lesson is true as it was then – I think it is – the answer to who is our neighbor to love, show grace and mercy to is everyone. Before you raise a sharp tongue to the issues of which you do not understand, I encourage you to raise a calm hand to those who may represent these communities.

Ask them what their deepest need is; what they wish to be understood for… I assure you that the response you get will be unified…

love: We wish to be loved, affirmed and treated equal

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I urge you to go outside of your comfort zone and become the modern day Samaritan.

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