Sometimes I get so wrapped up in political discussions and friendly debates, so hot under the collar about right and wrong and the big picture and who should be doing what for whom. I tend to have very passionate opinions about topics close to my heart and, although I won’t shove them down your throat uninvited if you should ask, I will tell you.
36 Which of these three proved himself a neighbor to the man who had been mugged by the robbers?
Scholar: 37 The one who showed mercy to him.
Jesus: Well then, go and behave like that Samaritan.
There’s nothing wrong with being passionate but I suspect I miss the small picture by looking at the big one. Jesus didn’t say ‘make sure your government does likewise.’ Nor did He say ‘make sure your neighbour does likewise’. He said to me to go and do likewise.
It’s easy to look at the big picture and forget that it is made up of small parts, of little pictures. Deuteronomy 24 is full of these little pictures. It gives example after example of personal ways to love one’s neighbour. They aren’t so directly applicable to us unless we are farmers, money lenders or employers perhaps but they reveal how God wants us to treat each other just as eloquently as Jesus did in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
This is not intended to tell you not to have an opinion about politics, politicians or government but is intended to remind you and me that all we can be truly responsible for is what we do ourselves. The example we set has more influence on our world than a thousand rallies or a hundred letters or posts.
Our Prime Minister doesn’t live on my street and know the elderly couple next door who need help clearing their snow. POTUS isn’t passing by the hungry person outside my grocery store begging for handouts. My pastor isn’t talking to the person across the coffee table from me who needs prayer or help for a need. Those people all have their very important jobs to do and have their role to play in the big picture but right now, right here it’s me who has to act as Jesus commanded and love my neighbour.
The saying ‘it’s a small world’ becomes truer every day and we are aware of issues in places unheard of 50 years ago but in the midst of balancing needs in the world far beyond our control, we must not lose sight of the needs right here beside us. The hungry, the lonely, the widow and the orphans, the ones Jesus talked about when He said giving to them was the same as giving to Him.
The priest and Levite had important jobs to do without a doubt but it was the Samaritan who stopped what he was doing – maybe equally important – and helped the victim who was approved by Jesus. I pray we’ll have eyes to see what God considers important and do it.