“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’"
I've been thinking lately about the concept of a "neighbor." The other day I watched the trailer to a new documentary coming out about Mr. Rogers. And as I read the Good Samaritan today I heard the song ringing in my mind "won't you be my neighbor?"
It seems to me that being neighborly, just because of how Jesus talks about it, should be a distinctly Christian thing. But I see that it's actually also a worldly value. No one is condemning the Good Samaritan. In fact, in our world, people regardless of whether they follow Jesus or not might be coined a "good Samaritan."
Every day people are going above and beyond to help each other, to make a stand for justice, to love and accept others.
But I also don't know if we've ever lived in a world where kindness like that was looked down upon. I think human beings generally value kindness, and I think we always have. But what makes Christian kindness, Christian neighborly love, look different from the neighborly kindness and love of the world?
I know there is a difference. I see it in my own life, but how is it defined?
As I was reading I was struck with the level of selflessness the Good Samaritan has. And maybe that's distinctly Christian. But also I think non-believers are often selfless too.
I think the difference is the fruit of the Spirit. It is selflessness, yes. But it is the supernatural gift to be a loving neighbor, a joyful neighbor, a peaceful neighbor, a patient neighbor, a kind neighbor, a good neighbor, a faithful neighbor, a gentle neighbor, and a self-controlled...a selfless neighbor.
I want to be a good Samaritan. And to do that I am convinced I need desperately and only to surrender to the Spirit of God.