“…love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18b)
Read Luke 10:25-37.
Kristen was always a very “troubled” girl. I’m sure there was a time, a long, long time ago, when she was happy and innocent and full of that lovely sunlight all children tend to have. But that was before we knew her, before a lot of things. Her father had been abusive, if not to her directly at least to her mother. Then he left them without a cent to live on, and there was nothing they could do since her parents were never married. That was just before she started middle school. During middle school, bullying and exclusiveness pushed her to a crowd where almost anyone could be accepted, granted you were willing to accept the people there too (shady characters). By high school she was a loner with a bad attitude and a great disrespect for everyone. The poor girl didn’t have a drop of love in her, but she had never had a drop poured into her either. Not many people were willing to tolerate her, much less treat her with kindness.
Oh, there were people who had tried. Her grandmother was connected to a church and had the youth pastor visit Kristen a few times, but he didn’t get far. Her unwillingness to even begin to accept anything he said turned him away immediately, and he thought she was too far gone for her to have any hope right now.
Then there was that Bible-thumping, high school missionary, the revival type who went around openly talking about his faith. He tried talking to Kristen too, but her attitude felt like poison to him. Soon he could barely stand to be around her; she was that cold.
No one thought anything would ever be able to get to Kristen, until one day at a youth worship service in the basement of a local church she totally broke down and gave her life to Christ. Tears streaming down her face, she asked Jesus to forgive her for all the terrible sins she had committed and to take her as His own. And of course, He did.
People were amazed at the change that came over this girl. They wanted to know why: why had she done it, what had convinced her, and why she had even been at that service in the first place. What tore down her walls? So she began to tell her story.
“All my life people have tried to tell me about Jesus, about His love and Who He is. I’d block them out. They’d always come up to me and just start talking. I thought it was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen, someone coming up and just jabbering about their faith and new life and etc. But then there was a girl at school who started saying “hi” to me, and she would smile at me. She would ask me how I was and if I’d had a good week. She’d wish me a good day. She was so happy, smiling all the time. It had been a long time since I had been happy, and at first, I thought she had to be insane. Who could always be happy? But it seemed that, no matter what, she was always smiling, always kind, and always happy. She glowed, though with what I never knew then.
“At first I was mean to her. I didn’t accept her kindness. But she kept going. Then I would ignore her, act like she wasn’t there. But she still kept going. Finally, I had to ask her why she was doing this. She said she was just being nice to me. When I asked why, she said it was because I mattered. I was so confused. But then I started listening. I didn’t start talking to her then, though I eventually came around to it. But I did start listening. And that’s when I first heard Love. Jesus is Who saved me, but He used her to bring me to the place where that was possible.”
The priest was like a pastor, and the Levite was like a deacon. But neither of them helped the man who fell into robbers. It was a Samaritan, a man himself judged and excluded, who helped the dying stranger. We read the story and see a bleeding and bruised body lying on the side of the road. We think, “How could anyone not stop to help the man?” But there are people all around us dying and with wholly visible wounds that we pass by. Sometimes we don’t know the reasons why they’re dying, but that doesn’t matter. We can still see they are dying.
Priests and Levites were considered teachers, but like Kristen in the story, the man was too far gone for words to reach. He needed actions. It took the Samaritan’s effort, time, and resources. It cost something. It took mercy, since this Jewish man was naturally in opposition with a Samaritan. But the Samaritan loved his neighbor.
“‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’
The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’
Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” –Luke 10:37b
Lord, please lead us in truly loving our neighbors out of Your great, boundless love. Please fill us so we can pour into others. Thank You for saving us like this.