This Sunday, we will hear the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told this story in answer to a question: “Who is my neighbor?” In it, he provides a muti-faceted way of answering the question. I want to warn you that one way of interpreting that story that is risky and wrong.
That interpretation says: Every person on the side of the road is YOUR problem. Every person in need is entitled to your attention, time, and resources. This is simply not the case.
Even Jesus didn’t’ roll that way. He used discernment and the Holy Spirit within him to decide who HE was called to engage with at any particular time.
Imagine if the story went like this: The person lying injured on the side of the road a donkey drunk driver. He had a long history of drunk donkey driving. People had been hurt by it, but he still continued to do it. He was in the ditch because of his addiction. What does it mean to be a neighbor to that man? Maybe, just maybe, that ditch is where he needs to be until he realizes the truth: his addiction brought him there.
We have people in our midst who have problems that you and I can’t solve. In an effort to get their needs met, they may ask us to play “Good Samaritan” to them. But doing so may not be in their interest. Doing so may just enable them to avoid the truth of their situation that much longer. To their peril, or that of others.
How will we know what to do?
You don’t know the other person’s situation, but you know yours. Be ready in advance with clarity about what you and are not comfortable doing for someone else. Ask yourself why you are helping, really? And let your answer be guided by truth.
Sometimes saying no, and NOT playing Good Samaritan is what is best. But it will make you feel “unchristian”.
The person seeking help may say something like that to you. I cant tell you how many times I've been told, "You're no Christian!"
Even Jesus was called Satan. You can take it. Walk on by. This is not, I repeat, NOT, an invitation to not care for people. It is a challenge to all of us to care more effectively.
You are not the Savior. I am not the Savior. As Candace Plattor, a clinical counselor at an addiction center, puts it: You cannot control or “fix” another person. So stop trying. She goes on to say:
“The only person you have any control over is yourself. You do not have control over anything the addicted person does. Many people choose not to believe this, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Once you can really grasp the reality of this concept and live by it, your life will become much easier.”
I join you in praying that we will always respond with love and concern to those in crisis or in need. It is NEVER wrong to give someone food, water, or help provide for their basic needs. But love may call us to a tougher action than meeting the need. Love might call us to walk away.