A couple of years ago, during a spiritual emphasis sermon series, I encouraged our church family to carry a twenty-dollar bill with them and give it to someone in need when the opportunity arose. Twenty-dollars posed a significant stretch for those who were living on a tight budget, but the amount wasn’t what challenged people most. The biggest struggle was answering the question an expert in the Law asked Jesus: “Who is my neighbor?” The lawyer had accurately quoted the second greatest commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but he was troubled by the possibility his neighborhood might be larger than hoped.
In answer to the lawyer’s question, Jesus told His famous parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:32-37). In His parable, a Samaritan was the only one who cared for a dying man, while a priest and Levite passed him by. Samaritans were looked down on by people like the lawyer, so we can assume Jesus’ command to “go and do likewise” hit hard.
Does this sound like something that could have happened today? Do some people in our world ignore the cries of the helpless? Are prior commitments and legal contracts still used by religious people as an excuse for mistreating fellow believers? I will let you grapple with the answers to these questions, but I have discovered human nature hasn’t changed much. The timeless properties of Jesus’ parables still stir our conscience. God expects nothing more or less of His kingdom citizens now than then, and Satan still twists our values and priorities to blind us to the truth.