The Modern Good Samaritan

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IN a modern recasting of the Good Samaritan story, a priest walking down the road to Jericho finds a man badly beaten by robbers.

The priest quickly administers the last rites and hurries back to his church to deliver a sermon.

Another pastor walks the Jericho road and is appalled to see the beaten man. So he returns to his church to formulate a course on How Christians Can Help Alleviate Poverty.

A revivalist sees the man being beaten on his TV and gathers thousands in the Jerusalem Bowl to sing songs about moral decay.

A political activist sees the man being beaten and organises a demonstration.

And while the priest, the pastor, the revivalist and the activist are busy, the man on the Jericho road dies.

The tale is an attack on the non-involvement towards people in need.

American pastor Edward F. Markquart, who used the modern version of the Samaritan tale in a sermon, said the Jericho road was always with us.

In the original Good Samaritan parable, told by Jesus, a Jewish traveller on the road is beaten, robbed, and left for dead. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man.

Finally, a Samaritan – one of those despised by the Jews – comes by and helps the man who many would have seen as his enemy.

Martin Luther King visited the road, known in Jesus’s time as the bloody pass, and described a winding, meandering road conducive to ambushing.

King said it was possible the priest and the Levite had thought the man lying by the road was pretending to be injured to lure them to a place where they could be robbed and beaten.

And so the first question that the priest and the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” King said.

But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

The Samaritan betrayed all stereotypes that many people at the time had about his race. His neighbour was not defined by locality – someone next door – but someone in need.

C.S. Lewis once said: “It is easier to be enthusiastic about humanity with a capital H than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.”

We live in a suffering world.

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14 thoughts on “The Modern Good Samaritan

  1. The Good Samaritan parable is about making excuses, about self-justification, about letting oneself off the hook.

    A US professor at Harvard Divinity School once asked his students to use the Good Samaritan story to preach about love and compassion at all their classes.

    He watched them rush between classes to carry out the assignment.

    All the students had to walk through a courtyard at least once during the day to pass by an actor posing as an ill beggar who had been deliberately planted there by the professor.

    Few of the would-be preachers stopped to help the man. Most walked right past the example at the heart of the Good Samaritan parable.

    It was a powerful lesson

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    • I recently visited Melbourne and observed one of these “homeless” people at work. After staying all day in shabby smelly clothes with a cup for change near him, this so called “homeless” man got into a limousine and was driven away!

      I am in contact with a fellow who is always complaining he can’t pay the bills, he can’t feed his family, etc. Meanwhile he owns a boat, an expensive 4WD, and always chooses to rent in a yuppie suburb. Recently he went to the Salvation Army for financial assistance, then complained that he was only given a voucher for $20!
      When I questioned the Salvos about the incident, they said that their policy is not to help people who are in dire financial situation when they are known to be wasteful with their personal income, wasteful with their resources. Apparently even the Salvos are starting to become sick of everyone that comes to them expecting them to be good Samaritans. Not sure exactly how widespread this policy is, among the Salvos.

      Maybe the lesson with the actor planted by the professor was that the parable of the Good Samaritan is abused by so many non-genuine needy people, and the students were onto it.

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  2. Pingback: The Modern Good Samaritan | Christians Anonymous

  3. CONTINUING OUR DISCUSSION RIAN:

    “I just find it incredible that you can have such an inner experience going on day after day, and at the same time, are able to state that if your belief in the literal account of Moses on the mountain were shattered, all of your Faith would go.”

    Well Rian,

    Can’t you see that I would feel utterly betrayed by the God I claim to love, know (in part) and worship if His own words concerning Moses turn out to be false? Why, God would be proven to be a liar and my faith would be proven worthless and a lie because, you see, when I read the Bible, it’s not man that I hear speaking, it’s God speaking directly to His children.

    The Bible isn’t a mouldy old book gathering dust in a corner. On the contrary, it is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Bible is precious to me. In fact, I would even say it is my most precious possession, and I fully trust it. And I will go one step further and say that to dismiss the Word of God is to dismiss God Himself. And not only that, to not see that the Bible is God speaking to us through fallible man is in reality to not know the real God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Does that mean I worship the Bible? No, of course not. That is ridiculous, but I certainly feel God’s Spirit in the words of the Bible—and not only in the Bible—but through any person who speaks a word that has originated from God, as in the ‘spoken’ prophetic word of “Thus says the Lord”, like in this wonderful prophetic word to follow. It is truly God’s heart. So I hope you can understand now where I am coming from Rian and why I am so passionate about God and His Word—they are one! “That means that everything Jesus is, His Word is. Everything that Jesus can do, the Word can do. And the Bible tells us that the Word of God is a seed. When you plant the seed of God’s Word in your heart, you release the life of God that is stored up within the seed of His Word into your life, and the possibilities of that seed are infinite!”…..Rev. Joe Percell

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    • A Quick and Living Word

      “My Word is a living word, a quick word, an active word. Every Word was and is breathed by Me, given by Me through the Holy Spirit. Each and every verse is like a finely crafted instrument in the hands of a master surgeon. Each verse is designed specifically for a purpose and contains an essence of whom and what I am. Fathoms of revelation are contained with the depths of each Word and can never be exhausted of their truth and beauty. My Word, like Me, has no beginning or end. It goes on and on and on . . . waiting to be revealed and understood by a seeking heart.

      So deep is My Word, there is not enough time or enough adjectives to relay the intensity and power of each syllable contained within. Suffice to say, each verse contains volumes upon volumes with the capacity to fill limitless libraries. I and My Word are one. We contain all you need.

      Through the circumstances of life, your experiences and by the very fact you are born with a sin nature, you have in a sense become infected with a type of bacteria. It can only be destroyed—have its power removed from in your life—by the blood of the Lamb, My “Living Word” and your submission to it.

      Of course, the first action needed in all cases is salvation through the life-giving work of My son, Jesus, on the cross (John 3:16-18, Romans 10:9-10). From the point of salvation you are a new creature, a new person and old things have passed away. You must come to a revelation of this and appropriate it by making decisions each and every day to let go of old ways (2 Corinthians 5:17).

      When old ways, thoughts or habits try to infiltrate and spoil the new wine of our communion, you must refuse to accept them as what they really are. Replace them with the truth and do as I have instructed.

      Renew your mind with the Word and your thoughts, motives and actions will follow. It all starts in the mind with thoughts you either given into or take captive. Cut all wrong thoughts and attitudes off at conception. Use My “Living Word” in a proactive way to cut asunder all oppositional lies of the enemy and like a garden after a spring rain, you will grow by leaps and bounds, reaping the fruit of salvation and sanctification.”

      “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

      Journals of the Heart

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    • Sure Mon,
      I can readily see now where you are coming from. Thanks for the description of your passionate description of your trust in the Scripture. In no way can I share this; and I continue to feel that this wholehearted belief in the Bible as the literal voice/word of God brings with it great strength, as well as great vulnerability.

      Interesting, and reading your posts and recalling what you have been relating about your faith journey over these last two years, I see a similarity between yourself and St Paul. I’m not talking there about the issue of ‘output’ and theologising. Just more about the ‘Calling’ you each experienced and your responses to it.

      Love Rian

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  4. Modern recasting was interesting. You forgot about the dozen or so selfies people took in the meantime. Having said that I think the person who wrote that was a bit harsh. It may surprise you that the good qualities of the Romans (West) was recognised 1400 years ago.

    ‘Amr said, “If you say this, it is true, because they have four good characteristics:

    They are the most able to cope with tribulation,
    The quickest to recover after disaster and to return to the fight after disaster, and
    Are the best as far as treating the poor, weak and orphans is concerned.
    They have a fifth characteristic which is very good; they do not allow themselves to be oppressed by their kings.”

    [Muslim, Kitaab al-Fitaan, 8 – 176.]

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