Facebook Meets the Good Samaritan

As I was recently preparing to preach on the story of the “Good Samaritan” (found in Luke 10), my imagination took off. I asked myself, if this story was posted today on Facebook, what would the ensuing discussion look like?

The news headline might read “Foreigner Aids Assault Victim on Road from Jerusalem to Jericho.” The story line might be: “In a high crime area and in a day when citizens are avoiding personal responsibility in helping those in need, one man risked his life to help a crime victim. Some are calling for an inquiry into how this kind of thing happened and are proposing various solutions.”

Here is a way the thread might go…

Safety Advocate: “I have been repeatedly highlighting the dangerous problems of that stretch of road. But, no, the politicians are turning a deaf ear, preferring to fund the more costly Metro Line from Bethlehem to Masada because of well-placed lobbyists who are lining their pockets.”

Anti-Crime Advocate: “How many times must we allow our travel routes to be disrupted by unrestrained criminal activity? I travel that road frequently and have yet to see a police car in the area.”

Civil Engineer: “There are some very simple things that could be done to make that road less problematic. Some of the curves could be straightened out, a few more street lights would help, and 9-1-1 call phones would enhance safety.”

Atheist: “I notice a priest and a Levite both passed the injured man without showing compassion or offering assistance. Just one more example of the hypocrisy of the religious.”

NRA spokesperson: “A person would have to be insane to travel on that stretch of road without a weapon. Oh, I forgot. The government disarmed the citizenry!”

2nd Amendment Foe: “Well, I remember an armed lady who was walking down to Jericho. When she tried to defend herself against her attackers, they took her weapon and used it on her. Later it was also used to rob a Seven-11 up near Nazareth. So much for arming the citizenry.”

Senior Citizen: “When I was a teenager, we traveled up and down that road to Jericho all the time without fear of being bothered. I pity my grandchildren when I think of the world they will grow up in.”

Millennial: “Thanks a lot, Baby Boomers. This is the world you created and you left us to try to fix it. Thanks a whole lot!”

Fiscal and political conservative: “How much money have we thrown at this problem with no favorable results? We need stiffer laws and enforcement of existing laws if that road is going to be safe for travel.”

Fiscal and political liberal: “We need to fund more training programs and recreation centers between Jerusalem and Jericho to give these young people something meaningful to do.”

Anti-Immigration Person: “What was that Samaritan doing within our borders, anyway? How did he get here? Who let him in? For every “Good” Samaritan you can name, I can tell you the stories of 100 who are illegally here, living lives of crime, and mooching off of our tax dollars.”

Yes, when a social issue arises, opinions abound and Facebook becomes the soapbox for anyone with a keyboard.

But Jesus’ parable is not intended to address the gamut of 1st century Palestine societal ills. He is simply answering a question posed by a lawyer: “Well, just who is my neighbor, anyway? (Luke 10:29) If I love God, who am I obligated to help when I encounter people in need?”

Rather than eagerly expanding his list of neighbors to as many as he could possibly manage, the lawyer wants to whittle the list down to a manageable and comfortable few. As Steve Moore says (Who is My Neighbor?), “The burden is not on others to somehow qualify to become our neighbor. The responsibility is on us to take the initiative in being a neighbor to others.”

Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. He rephrases the lawyer’s question and asks, ‘Which of the three men do you think became a neighbor?’ (v. 36) Jesus’ 2015 comment on Facebook might be: “Stop worrying about all these other things; instead, prioritize becoming a neighbor yourself. Then you will find yourself loving God with all of your heart.”

Note: I credit Steve Moore and his book, “Who Is My Neighbor?” for expanding my thinking on this story that Jesus told. I can’t recommend this book highly enough and hope to share more of Steve’s insights in the coming days.]

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