Friday, October 28, 2016

Beyond Doing Good

There once was a preacher, a Levite and a Samaritan … sounds like an opening to a joke doesn’t it? 

However, if you’ve been following along for this discipleship journey (and read Luke 10 which I know you all have) you already know that it has to do with a parable that Jesus told to His disciples.

What could possibly be the link between these three men that Jesus made sure to point out in the scriptures, and what does it have to do with being a Christ follower?  Let me begin with something that the Lord brought to my attention that happened in the summer of 2004. 

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In the Heat of the Day 

It was a hot and humid August afternoon, the kind where all your clothes just stick to you because of the heat.  My husband and I happened to be at my mother’s house, but no one else was there. 

While talking I got up and walked over to glance out their glass front door in the banquet hall.  I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but liked to see the traffic on the highway that passed by their home.  I guess it was a habit I got from childhood when we would sit on the front porch counting cars or playing some sort of vehicle guessing game. 

Anyway, during our conversation I noticed a young couple with backpacks walking on the side of the road and didn’t think anything of it until they sat down along the highway.  About a minute later they got up and walked past the house and sat down by the woods to get out of the sun. 

Being a woman of curiosity I naturally wanted to check this out for myself.  So I called to hubby!  You didn’t think I was going out there now did you? 

Getting up from the sofa he came over to the door.  Pointing to the couple I asked him to “go see” if they were alright and to give them each a Pepsi and cold bottled water.   

A Drink in My Name 

Being the obedient man that he is, hubby grabbed the beverages and crossed the front lawn in a diagonal toward the woods on the right of the property.  Knowing that we are to offer a drink to someone in the name of Jesus, that’s what he did. (Mark 9:41) 

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you,
he shall not lose his reward. 

“Are you guys alright?” Hubby asked as he approached the man and woman.  At first the two thought they were doing something wrong, but he assured them that all he was concerned about was their well-being. 

He didn’t ask anything else but handed them the drinks when they started to share their story.  Being homeless, without money or a vehicle, they had been walking for days, sleeping wherever they could and eating very little.  You didn’t really need to hear the story, because all anyone had to do was look at their tired and drained bodies to know something wasn’t right. 

How Far Is Atlantic City? 

The pair foraged across country: destination, “truck driving school” in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Their mission was for both of them to secure their CDL (Commercial Driver's License) and contract a position as team drivers for a cross country trucking company.   

After sharing their story hubby inquired if they had a place to stay once they arrived in AC.  Not having that luxury, their plan was to sleep on the beach or in a park. 

Looking up at my husband the man asked, “How far is Atlantic City from here?”  He told them approximately 55 miles.  Pulling themselves up from the ground they both let out a weary sigh and said that they had better get back on the road.  At that point hubby told them to sit tight and he would be back in a few minutes. 

 

As He Is, So Are We  

When my husband came back in the house and related their story, we knew right away what we needed to do.  As disciples of the Lord, we are to be as Jesus was in this world when He walked the face of the earth. (1 John 4:17) 

“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. 

While I was busy rummaging through my purse to see if I had any cash, hubby got on the phone to a rescue mission that we supported and ministered at in Atlantic City.  He made arrangements for them to stay there in a safe clean environment while they attended the driving school.  As he was hanging up the phone I came in with the cash that I had on hand, and together with what he had in his wallet, we were able to give them enough to buy two tickets from the bus station twelve miles away. 

Leaving by the front door, hubby called and motioned for them to come to the car.  With backpacks and beverages in hand they got into our Blazer.  En route my husband stopped at a fast food restaurant (don’t remember which one) and purchased a sack full of burgers and fries for their bus ride. 

Was it Enough? 

Once in the car, the couple really opened up and talked about everything under the sun.  Hubby inquired about their relationship with Christ and they both said they received Jesus as their Savior in their teens, but never really followed the practice of Christianity. 

Arriving at the bus station the wait was only about ten minutes until the next departure for the coastal city.  With detailed instructions on how to get to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission they stated their gratitude and boarded the bus. 

Never hearing how things turned out for the couple, we prayed they would rediscover their first love in Jesus and all would work out on their behalf.  Something my husband and I are aware of is that God put them before my eyes for a reason, and it was a test to see what the “children of the Lord” would do.   

If it is within our power, we are to do good every time the situation arises.  Taking a look at the passage in Luke chapter ten, I’m still not sure we did enough.  (James 4:17) 

“Therefore to him that knows to do good,
and doeth it not, to him it is sin. 
 

Turn of Evidence 

I really can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the account of the Good Samaritan throughout my life.  Every time I read it or hear it preached, I see it in a different light and wonder if there is more to the childlike story we’ve been told as believers.  (Luke 10:25-37) 

The situation begins with a lawyer who in his own eyes is a pretty good Jewish, God fearing man.  He turns to Jesus after listening to the Messiah teach, and asks how to receive eternal life.  

Knowing the line of questioning this solicitor had in mind, Jesus turned the inquiry around by putting the man in an awkward position forcing him to respond with some aspect of intelligence.   

Responding Jesus said, “What does the law say?”  Referring to the Pentateuch and Laws of Moses, without hesitation the barrister answered correctly.   

Giving no more attention to the matter Jesus calmly acknowledged he was correct and that if he did those things he would live (eternally).  You might think that satisfied the legal eagle, but not so … he kept up with the cross examination of Jesus. 

A Priest, a Levite and a Samaritan

Continuing the interrogation, the lawyer smugly asked “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus took position and shared the parable of the “Good Samaritan”.   

After Christ described who a neighbor was, it is doubtful that the lawyer was pleased with the answer.  He gives no evidence that his intentions toward all humanity were that of stewardship, compassion or mercy, but that of mere selfishness. 

What Jesus was conveying is that a neighbor isn’t just the people who live next door to you.  A “neighbor” is any one that you have an opportunity to show mercy on (do good to/for by showing unmerited favor) expecting nothing in return.   

When God puts us along the path of others it is for a reason.  We are to “go and do” like the Samaritan did by showing mercy and compassion on any individual in need regardless of religion or position in life. 

Samaritans of Mercy 

Scriptures point out specific things that the Samaritan actually did for a total stranger.  He took care of him physically going to the point of giving up his own transportation by placing the left for dead man on his animal.   

We learn how he cared for him throughout the night by providing food, lodging and medical help.  When it came time for him to leave, the Samaritan paid all the bills for the traveler and gave his word that any further expenses would be taken care of when he returned.   

Who represents the Priest in this parable?
 
Who represents the Levite in this parable?
 
Without going into deeper study at this point, I’d like you to take notice that the priest and the Levite saw what happened.  They witnessed a man who was in desperate need, but instead of doing as the “law” stated, they literally did nothing and crossed the road to get as far away from the situation as possible.  Now that wasn’t very “neighborly” for those who the world would consider “God fearing” men. 

Jesus - our neighbor and Good Samaritan.

The Samaritan helped and did everything needed.  He went above and beyond caring for a stranger much like what Jesus has done for us.  In this passage Christ is depicted as the “type” of Samaritan who cares and loves us so much that He died on the cross for our sins while we were yet strangers to the Kingdom of God.   He saw our battered lives, picked us up, washed away our dirty sins and lovingly welcomed us into His house. 

When I think back in my life I honestly cannot recall where I did all that the Samaritan had done.  Sure we’ve given meals, cups of water, a place for lodging and even sowed vehicles over the years … but when did I ever follow up or “go back” as this parable man did?  Have I turned out to be more like the tongue wagging lawyer than the sacrificing ancient of days servant? 

This Week’s Challenge:
Beyond Doing Good 

Over the years I’ve had plenty of chances to be the disciple Jesus asks of me. There were probably times where I’ve even crossed the street to avoid getting involved in a situation that I deemed a bit messy.  However, there was that one time specifically … what could we have done differently? 

Looking back we have wondered why we didn’t ask the couple if they would like to pray the sinner’s prayer or rededicate their lives to Christ, after all, both admitted they had fallen away from Him.  Did they really know what accepting Jesus as their Savior was or were they just familiar with the terminology? 

Our challenge this week requires that we go beyond doing “good” by getting more involved in being a type of Christ that reflects the goodness of God beyond normal reaction or measure.   

We need to understand that those of unbelief are like that couple, who were travelers going nowhere, yet thought their destination was all planned.  God sent people along their path but who knows how many noticed and crossed the street to avoid getting involved when they realized they were homeless and penniless?  How many Samaritans of mercy were put in place before and after we came into contact with that wayward pair? 

As modern day Disciples of Christ we have read the books, studied scriptures and basically know what to do … the preacher and Levite knew what God said on the subject of doing good too.  Hey, even the unsaved know how to do “good” in some manner! 

Are we still crossing roads of avoidance when our path is jammed up with the unlovely issues of life?  Do we run from opportunities to share the favor of God through eternal salvation with others, instead of embracing the situation to lead someone to Heaven’s doors? 

Although we may not always be in the position to help someone in the future, there is Someone who can and will – Jesus.  His mercy – unmerited favor is for now and eternity.  He is the best friend and neighbor that everyone needs, because no one will ever care for you like Jesus. 
 
 

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Until next time, show favor to those along your path! 

“Show favor to those who cannot return it.”
Jesus Christ 

*Unless noted, the names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy. 

Note: Emphasis is given in some scriptures to show clarity or understanding and is not to take away from the inspirited Word of God. 

When used, the words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives. 

... and yes the word "discipled" isn't a word used by the world, but that of believers. 

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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