Ali Searay and the Good Samaritan
Luke 10:27 You shall love… your neighbor as yourself.
As I was out for a long run yesterday, contemplating this passage, I was reminded of my own Samaritan moment. In the story of the Good Samaritan, a lawyer questioned Jesus about his command to love thy neighbor. Who is my neighbor? The lawyer wanted to know exactly whom he was required to love.
Jesus told him the story of a traveler attacked by robbers who stripped him, beat him and left him for dead. Two religious leaders passed him by, refusing to help. Then a Samaritan (a member of an enemy ethnic/religious people) stopped to save the man. Jesus asked the lawyer who the hero of the story was, Who was the loving neighbor? The lawyer was forced to answer that the despised Samaritan was, in fact, the one who loved.
As I said, this parable reminded me of a lesson I learned a couple years ago. I had gone to Minneapolis to look at a boat owned by a man who turned out to be a Palestinian (Muslim) whom I call Ali Searay (the brand of the boat). He was funny and personable and I liked him from the start. I had intended to just look at the boat, but as I am impulsive, I decided I was going to take it home.
I asked him if he would take a check for what was, to me, a considerable amount of money. He looked at me and asked, Would you take a check from me? He did not have to explain the implication and I could not lie my way out of it. We both knew the answer. Here, a Caucasian, Christian physician was expecting this Palestinian to extend a courtesy that would not likely be returned.
As I contemplated the good Samaritan, I thought about Ali and I thought about my hypocrisy. I know what the story means. I just have a hard time living it. I want to love my neighbor but I really do not want to have to risk my own time or money to do it. I do not want love to cost me anything.
As Christians, we often want to just tell others the truth and pretend that is love. The most loving thing we can do is tell someone the truth. While telling the truth is important, it is not how Jesus defined love. Love and truth are different. Love is treating others with kindness, looking to their interests, even when it gains us nothing.
If my version of love repels people from God, then I am doing it wrong. The gospel will offend people at times, but few people are repelled by kindness and love. That is why Jesus often first looked to the needs of those He met and then told them the truth.
Jesus taught that love usually risks something. In the case of Ali, his kindness (he took my check) put him at considerable financial risk, a risk that I would not have taken. If I want to love like Jesus, I need to be willing to give of myself.