Are you familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan? I think most of us are. If you want to read it for yourself it is found in the New Testament book of Luke, chapter ten. We have heard that story, whether we have ever been in a church or not. We have seen it on the news sometimes—the Good Samaritan who stops to help out. What does it mean to be a good neighbor? Jesus tells this story: a guy gets beat up on a roadside, and Jesus, in an ironic way, puts an extra twist in it. He says to these Jewish people who were gathered together listening to Him teach: Here’s this Samaritan, someone who hates Jews and Jews are hated by them, he stops and he is the one who ends up being the good neighbor. The guy with the religious title, he passes right by him on the other side. The guy who is on his way to teach the Law at some school, he also crosses the street. We all know a Good Samaritan story, someone who stops to help someone at a point of need.
There are five things the Samaritan did that would be good for us to do if we are going to live an invested life on loan. The first thing he does is assist the person in a time of need. That seems pretty obvious, but look what that meant: He didn’t just pass as the others did. This guy had a schedule, he had an agenda, and there was some place he was heading. But he stopped, and because there was this need that presented itself—he didn’t start out his day by saying, “Boy, I hope I find some guy beat up, naked, bleeding and half dead on the road. That would make my day.” That was not how he started his day. But here he comes along to this man in need. What does he do—he stops and gets off his donkey!
And sometimes for us, when things happen by chance, when things happen because we have the opportunity, when a circumstance arises, or a person with needs bumps into us, we get to choose at that moment what we will do. And the truth is, there has been a good chunk of my life when I have found a way around that issue. I flagged someone down to help out, or reported it when I got somewhere else—I found a way to find someone else meet that particular need. Whatever it may have been—it isn’t always someone left for dead on the side of the road. Maybe it is someone who calls you, or someone you bump in to at work, maybe it is someone you recognize that has some issue going on. It is easy to get so caught up in what we are doing that sometimes we pass right by the needs that happen.
Getting out of our own way is more difficult than I care to admit at times. Sometimes what I am doing—my agenda, my schedule, my plans – almost always, or at least used to, supersedes the things going on around me in peoples lives. It isn’t that we aren’t good-hearted, we are just busy, aren’t we? Somebody will help out, and maybe we will too, sometime. When an opportunity comes, do we choose to get off our donkey and respond? Steve Sjogren, the pastor at Vineyard Church in Cincinnati, said it takes between 12 to 20 positive bumps—refreshing encounters with the Christians or churches—before people come to appreciate Christ, or God, or the church. Often times what you do in a simple act of service becomes a very positive bump for somebody, but so often we are too busy.
There are several other things this guy did but I’m not going to tell you what they were but I will discuss them on Sunday morning, March 29, at New Venture Christian Church. Or after 3/29/09 the entire message will be available on our website at relaxedchurch.com.