Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Go, and do likewise.."

From this place, I am wrung, until dry;
All streams cease, yet again hope will flow.
I am but one life- and with that, a selfish one-
The reality of me is not as it should be; my
Hope comes with change.

Today, we studied a rather commonplace and inoffensive parable of Jesus's, recounted by Luke: the (ever-foolish) Good Samaritan. I know not the extent of any of your (my potential blog readers, that is) theological training in the Christian faith is, but I suppose that the tale, which involves a beaten, dying, and twice-ignored man rescued by who would normally be considered his religious and cultural enemy, is a popular one even amongst the most unknowing.

The Good Samaritan story has always filled me with a childish hope that, one day, I would have the opportunity to save a man (or woman's) life and to do so at my own expense and peril. That sentiment lives on in me, and for all I know, it may still need to come to maturity- lose some of it's childish glory. Yet my church- ever Lutheran and ever conservative in all manners of living-
did something wholly unexpected; they took the tale that so clearly speaks of sacrifice and unconditional love and did, perhaps, the most dehumanizing and unChristian thing to it: made it all about us and our safety.

(Disclaimer: should any Lutheran, whether a member of my specific church or not, read this, I tell you I do not renounce the creed of a Lutheran, just our responses as a whole to the Gospel {yet still I am an ultra-regular member of a LCMS congregation, to my perpetual disheartenment}.)

Jesus was NOT a safe man, and following him was no safer. He lived a life contrary to everyone else's of that day: where general religion dictated that revenge was warranted if it was "just," Jesus told his disciples to literally and figuratively "turn the other cheek" and be humiliated, hurt, robbed, or made insecure rather than retaliate. Jesus spoke to women (GASP! Them and their menstrual cycles!), Samaritans (as stated before, the Jew's cultural/religious enemy), and the lowest sinners. He overturned tables in the temple (my favorite Jesus scene), , and even allowed what was one of his closest friends and students to hand him over to those who desired to have him dead...

And if any doubt stands as to whether Jesus expected behavior of the same weird caliber when it came to his disciples and followers, the answer is all too clear: all throughout his ministry, he told his followers they would be hated, prosecuted, and killed; he told them they must be different from the world, yet reside in it, so as to help and guide who they might.

Which brings me back to the parable today. We were instructed to call upon the authorities should such a modern day "Good Samaritan" issue arrise. Do not stop; call 911. Do not help individuals; donate to organizations formed to do so.

That's all fine and dandy until you consider that such actions cost us nothing, and what costs us nothing does little for us or them. There is little love in donating money to a faceless cause. There is little love in standing by, as so many did in an article I clipped from the newspaper years ago telling of a man struck dead by a hit-and-run car who lay in the street for a relative eternity before anyone really was inclined to care.

A photograph accompanies the story. The man lying in the road is all of our shame, as is the one on the street corner and the one dying of malnutrition, half a world away.

1 comment:

Marvin the Martian said...

I'm glad you can perceive the clash of religion versus faith so clearly. Though I feel badly for you - some of the most lost "Christians" I have ever seen were Missouri Synod Lutherans, blinded by their religion, unable to follow their faith. However, you have only a few more years to wait, then you can find a religious path of your own choosing.