“‘Of the priest, Levite, and Good Samaritan, who do you consider became a neighbour to the person who fell into the hands of the robber?’ The lawyer said, ‘The one who took pity on him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do the same yourself’.”
— Luke 10:36-37 (USC*)
ALL it takes for evil to conquer goodness is for the goodness in people to remain dormant. When somebody is bleeding and motionless on the pavement, or blindsided by grief and cannot reconcile their pain or see any hope because of their loss, or betrayed by the maltreatment from a friend, and we stand by offering a token compassion, we have missed our neighbour.
Neighbourliness is central to faith. A neighbourliness that goes creatively further than anyone can copy. A neighbourliness that initiates with drive and passion and compassion, and will not dissipate when the heat comes on. A neighbourliness that acts without thinking of the consequences — which is very distinct from foolishness. Foolishness is void of love, thinking only of itself. Neighbourliness, however, in full instinctual flight, is love without thought for self.
Neighbourliness loves without motive for kudos, because it understands that the only kudos that counts for anything is the kudos of God. A neighbourliness gives and keeps giving because it’s right and can never be wrong. Neighbourliness is vouchsafed in God, and it has no need of fear.
The Good Samaritan was about as popular as a Jew in Nazi Germany. So it’s like a Jew with a star on his pocket, going across the road to help a Nazi SS agent who’s been accosted by someone in the Resistance. For a Jew to ‘love’ a person who could flay their whole family in frenzied laughter seems crazy. The Jew is a neighbour. The Jew is an example of what Jesus was referring to as Radical Love. In today’s terms it would be exercising love toward someone given to Jihad. It certainly worked for Rev. Wade Watts when he was instrumental in converting former KKK Imperial Wizard, Johnny Lee Clary (1959–2014) who came to be a powerful evangelist for the Lord. Love won over the hate.
But, in some ways, we are departing from simple neighbourliness — to help someone we don’t know who has been stricken somehow.
Real love comes to bear itself in action, unreasonable and unpredictable, always ingenious, eternally hopeful, spiritually resilient.
Jesus has a call for each of us who would call ourselves Christian; to work hard on our devotional life such that we are ready, willing, and able to help people in our daily going out and coming home.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.