THE NEIGHBOUR FROM HEAVEN
“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” (Luke 10:36-37)
We once had a neighbour from “hell”. A few weeks after moving into our nice, rented detached house in Sandakan, faeces began piling up in our garden next to our hedge fence. We were really upset. Our prime suspect? The “golums” next door! But we had no proof; it was in the days before home CCTV. All queries were met with vehement denials until one day I spied a UFO (unidentified “foul” object) sailing over the bushes into our property! I was on it in a flash (the incident, I mean, not the poop). Bellowing like an enraged cyclop, I charged into the hedge and caught sight of a wizened old lady scrambling hastily into her house. Zipping next door, I confronted the family who later apologized. Apparently they had a demented granny who did strange things. From then on, the aerial sewage attacks stopped. But did I ever love them? Never!
“And who is my neighour?” a lawyer once asked Jesus to justify himself. You have heard the bandied phrase: “there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet.” Well, in the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus tells us there are no enemies, only neighbours we haven’t known yet! He was that radical! Each time we hear the story we tell ourselves we can do better in helping others. If only we could! Could we really cross the chasm of hate between race, religion or culture that easily? Are we able to display that depth of love the Samaritan showed to the battered Jew who was his sworn enemy? He bound his wounds, carried him and ultimately paid the full price for his adversary to be totally healed. Can we even begin to love and care for strangers?
Truth be told, we have no hope of justifying ourselves by good deeds any more than the lawyer who asked Jesus that question. Because God’s definition of “neighbour” is so contrarian to ours, His standards are impossible to reach! Only one true “Good Samaritan” had met those standards: Jesus! He stopped for us while we were yet his enemies. He bound up our wounds, carried us back and paid full price that we might be made whole. His grace justifies us! So that we might “go and do likewise”!
2016 YEAR OF STRENGTH
Ps Dr Philip Lyn