I love a good story. No matter the theme, context, or location, I promise to be an attentive and enthusiastic listener. For example, I tend to ask people to tell me all about themselves and their life experience the first time I meet them. I know that I am not the only one that enjoys stories of any kind. There is a reason why gossiping is so easy, and oftentimes thrilling, to do despite its sinful nature. But why is this so interesting?
Well, in a story there is always conflict. Nothing ever goes according to plan and it is exciting to see just how the protagonist is going to overcome, save the day, or make it to their expected destination. We also tend to see ourselves in a story. We see ourselves as we relate to their fears, anxieties, joys, and victories. While listening, we view their experiences through our lenses and often judge their decisions, viewpoints, and struggles to be worthy or unworthy. We know that if it was us, we would have made the right decisions or would have never found ourselves in the same predicament.
Let’s explore this concept a little deeper. Here’s a story:
One day, a man is on a journey, and unfortunately, he is stripped, wounded, and left for dead by a bunch of thieves. We don’t know what they took from him, but we do know he almost lost his life. While this man is fighting for his very existence, on the side of a road no less, a priest walks by. The priest looks at the man in pain but chooses to do nothing and walks away on the other side. Then, a Levite stumbles upon this situation. He sees the man clearly struggling but also chooses to do nothing and walks away on the other side. Finally, a Samaritan appears on the scene and does something different. He goes to the man lying on the ground, and, moved by compassion, tends to his wounds, places him on his animal, and takes him into town. He pays for the man to be cared for by an innkeeper until the Samaritan returns to care for him.
In this story, there is a clear conflict, choice, and hero. The conflict? Someone needs saving. The choice? Help the man on the side of the road. The hero? The Good Samaritan.
While reading this story, who did you relate to the most? Oftentimes, we align ourselves with the Samaritan because we want to be the hero. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Sometimes, we’re the Levite or priest. We see a problem that needs a solution. We see the suffering and turmoil, but choose to do nothing about it. We might be too busy with our own lives and struggles, or maybe it is out of our comfort zone and we feel ill-prepared to help. Either way, there is a choice made to ignore and move to the other side, because it is not our problem or fight.
Oftentimes, we align ourselves with the Samaritan because we want to be the hero.
Maybe you resonate more with the innkeeper. If someone were to ask you to help, you’d be more than willing. Your experience and resources can be used and are at anyone’s disposal. You may not always see the problems firsthand, but when you are made aware, you will do the job that needs to be done.
Finally, maybe right now you relate more to the man lying on the side of the road. You feel hopeless, you are fighting for your life, and every time you think that you are being saved, it turns out to be nothing. Maybe you are praying for someone to cross over to you, truly see you in your struggle, and walk alongside you on this journey called life. If this is your situation, I am praying for you, because I have been there and it is incredibly lonely.
Maybe you are praying for someone to cross over to you, truly see you in your struggle, and walk alongside you on this journey called life.
Friends, I pray that we all strive to be the Good Samaritan. I want to be someone that stands up, not only when I am asked, but because it is what I am called to do. I want to use my time, resources, and voice to help those who cannot help themselves, and I pray with my whole heart that you do the same. I will leave you with this: “[Jesus asked], ‘Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise,’” (Luke 10:36, 37 ESV).