Quest to End Poverty in America Part 6

Good Samaritan Alternatives

Let us take a look at some different story lines and consider what we might think if the story had been told just a little different.

Scenario 1:  The man beat up had actually been one of the thieves until recently:  The Samaritan comes upon the man and remembers seeing him on television as a wanted man for robbery on this very road.  As in the original story the priest and the Levite are long gone.  Now the Samaritan is alone with this wanted man who is lying on the road, nearly dead.  What would Jesus have us do in that situation?

     Some would say right here and now that the man has made his choice and his lifestyle alone led him to this stage.  Even men and women in the church would suggest that it would be the justice of God to leave the man to die there in the streets.  They might say something along the lines of, “He made his bed, let him sleep in it.”  I am confident that others would come up with Scriptures to back up such a view.  However, the compassion of God (His Character) is unbelievable.  While the Scriptures do talk of turning a sinner over and that some have become too calloused to ever be redeemed, we in the flesh have no way of knowing if that has happened to this man or not.  Paul was at least an accessory to one murder that we know about.  Would we write him off?  Jesus invited the thief on the cross to join Him in Heaven.  Moses committed murder, we don’t have names for all of the witches and homosexuals that turned from their sin to follow after Christ.  God can use anyone and we are not to be the ones to write them off.  As a caution I do say that if this man is a known murderer than it might be a good idea to use wisdom in your handling of him.  As men and women of God it is critical that we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit.  He might direct us to patch him up and take him to the inn.  The Holy Spirit might direct you to call in the authorities.  Just maybe the Holy Spirit would have you take him to another place where experts can work alongside of others to serve him and lead him to a place of being restored to community.  If he returns to a lifestyle of murder, thievery or other crimes allow the authorities to deal with him.  Our role is to care for him and show him a better way regardless of his past.

Scenario 2:  The man is healed but the Samaritan finds him again in the same position the next time he is on that road.

Many months later as the Samaritan moves along down the road he was reflecting and remembered that the last time he had been here the relationship that he had started with that poor man that had been beaten up.  The Samaritan began to wonder whatever happened to the man when he looked up and saw a body and could hear some faint cries of pain.  Investigating he discovered that it was the same man.  What would Jesus have us do in this situation?

Maybe this same scene happens dozens of times.  Each and every time the Samaritan continues to help the man.  Should there be a limit to his compassion? Is the Samaritan only enabling the man to live foolishly by continuing to help him out?  Again many could make the argument that the foolish man no longer deserves compassion.  I would agree.  None of us really deserves for strangers or others to show us compassion.  The problem is that this man continues to waste resources and does not seem to be learning his lesson.  Consider that the man has not learned his lesson.  Has the Samaritan tried a different program of healing?  Maybe a different inn could teach him some martial arts so that next time maybe he could defend himself.  Possibly the program could teach him a different route to take to Jericho.  We have many options that we must try to help this man.  We are blessed with a certain level of creativity.  Consider options and keep trying new things.  Eventually the Samaritan won’t be there to rescue him and the problem will be solved in a horrendous way.  Letting the man know and understand that so far he has been most fortunate would be of benefit. 

    One other thing that might help, is teaching the man the art of journaling.  Having seen this multiple times in many and diverse situations most folks coming out of a traumatic situation will vow not to go back to those situations.  This often happens with women coming out of domestic abuse situations or with those coming down from an addiction.  The pain is great and they will resolve never to allow themselves to get into that situation again.  Unfortunately the pain heals and they forget all about their vow and return to the cause of their pain.  Friends and others try to call warn them and desire to help them but they will no longer listen.  By journaling they can tell themselves not to be foolish.  Maybe they will listen to themselves when the pull of going back down that dangerous road becomes too strong.

Scenario 3:  Every day someone is beat up alongside that road.

    Many weeks after the Samaritan has returned home he picks up a newspaper and notices a story about another man beat up alongside that road.  This one had nobody there to rescue him so he died.  The Samaritan is heartbroken.  Over the next several days he notices it again and again.  Nearly every day someone is being robbed and left for dead on that same portion of road.  Never in his life has the Samaritan been overly involved in politics and really would rather not be involved but he can’t help himself.  He must do something.  What would Jesus have him do in this situation?

     Now this one is much more complex.  This is an issue for society to address.  Today that person beat up and robbed was a stranger but if we remain silent eventually that person could be a family member, friend or even ourselves.  We must take action before anybody else gets hurt. 

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

-Edmund Burke

     Working with government will take time; we should start any process to increase police or other protection forces.  We will need to consider increases in taxes or repositioning law enforcement.  It will take time to determine the most cost efficient and effective course of action.

    However, we must take action now.  Churches could come up with a force to simply walk the road with folks during peak crime hours.  Leadership in local organizations could begin patching roads and making the whole stretch more easily used.  Maybe an outreach to the criminals that consistently work on that stretch of road would be in order.

    Now in this scenario it was crime that we were looking at but oppression and society based injustice is rampant in our nation.  Many reading this may think that I am overstating things.

    I love to watch my boys play basketball.  When the game is over they will often point out several terrible calls by the officials.  The ride home is filled with details of how the bad calls cost them a shot or even the game.  What they failed to notice were the other calls that also hurt the other team.  Some of them were also bad calls but since they benefited them they did not notice those calls. 

     Here is the point that we need to take home with us.  We tend to only notice unfairness when it strikes us personally.  Take a moment and walk in the shoes of others who are different than you.  I once went to the mall with a friend of mine who happens to be African American.  After a short time of walking through a department store I noticed that the store security happened to be watching us more carefully.  He was dressed in nice clothing the only thing that really set us apart was our skin color.  Now this did not happen in every store and did not even happen every time in that store.  But if I had not been with him that day and he would have told me about that sort of prejudice I might have doubted it. 

     Our society needs to take time to listen to one another and not simply write each other off because the world looks different through our glasses.

First They Came for the Jews” By Pastor Niemoller

 First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Application Questions

What are some more scenarios that might play out?

Are there any people in poverty that are beyond helping in your community?

What might motivate others in your community to come out and help?

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