Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Neighbourly Way

I usually think of the rural South as a place of genuine friendliness and neighborliness. I'm not so sure that is still true in a widespread way. Old neighbors die or move. New ones who move in that we hardly know. We often think of a neighbor as a person who lives nearby or next to another. Jesus taught us to think another way -- be a neighbor by showing sympathy, mercy and kindness (especially to those in distress). Even the world and the wicked love those that love them.

Luke 10:30-37 tells the story we usually call "The Good Samaritan". In it Jesus tells us of one who was robbed, beaten and left for dead. After the thieves left him, he was encountered by a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. In the encounter with the thieves and these three others, we learn 3 philosophies of dealing with our "neighbors".

1. What is yours is mine and I can have it. "A certain man...fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead." The philosophy of thieves is that anything that belongs to another is rightfully theirs (the thief's). They will take whatever they can, regardless of consequences, and not worry their conscience about it.

2. What is mine is mine and you can't have it. "[A] certain priest...when he saw him, he passed by on the other side" and "a Levite...came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side." The philosophy of the cheapskate and the tightwad, like the priest and Levite, is not one that necessarily takes from others. It is possessive of its own; it will not share. Maybe you don't have to worry about them stealing from you and leaving you with the consequences -- but they will not help. Will not give. Will not share.

3. What is mine is yours and you can have it. "[A] certain Samaritan...saw him...had compassion on him...and took care of him." The "Good Samaritan" was larger than life, with a heart as open as his pocketbook. He looked not to what he had and how he could it keep for himself, but looked for what must be done. He alone was neighbor to the man who fell among thieves.

"Go, and do thou likewise."

[Note: The "3 Philosophies" is not original to me. I heard and learned this from some unremembered soul years ago.]

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