Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself...Unless it's Kinda Hard

I want to turn off the news. I want to snuggle my kids in their beds and read stories and forget about all the hurt that exists outside our very door. I want to avoid debates and uncomfortable conversations and just stick with sharing silly stories of motherhood and awkward pick-up lines. But there’s one story I can’t stop thinking about, a story that is nagging my mind and haunting my thoughts every time I try to get on with my comfy life.

This story is about a man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. As he is lying helpless, 2 men walk by. They are respected figures in their community; they are religious leaders, but they walk on past. Perhaps they do not have the time to help or do not feel the obligation to this stranger who is so far removed from their busy, privileged lives.

A third man walks down the road. The thing about this third man is that he is of a completely different nationality and culture than the stranger. In fact, their cultures despise each other. Even still, the third man helps this stranger. He puts all of his own plans on hold and spends the day tending to the stranger’s wounds, giving him a ride back to his town, finding a place for him to recover and footing the bill for the entire ordeal. Even more remarkable is that just by entering the stranger’s land, the third man could have been killed, his people were that hated. He risked it all to help a stranger.

I probably don’t have to tell you that this story is the parable of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told in the Gospel of Luke when asked “who is my neighbor?”

The Samaritan gave his time, his money and risked his very life to help a man he had been taught to fear and hate.

And Jesus says “Go and do the same.”

I fail every day at finding Jesus in the needy, the neglected and the marginalized. How easy it is to see a homeless person and think “addict.” A welfare recipient becomes a “freeloader.” A refugee becomes a “terrorist.”

I don’t want to spend my life espousing Christian platitudes that fall apart when I’m forced outside my comfort zone. My greatest hope as a parent is to teach my children to love God and love others. Not “love others who look like you.” Not “be kind and have courage…unless you’re scared of the unknown.” Not “do unto others…unless it gets in the way of your own self-preservation.”

It’s hard. There are so many questions unanswered, so much pain, so many reasons to shut our doors to refugees in need.

But I can’t ignore the one truth that I know for sure:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

A Syrian refugee family living in my city. Click here to read their story.

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