I preached on the Good Samaritan last Sunday. Original, right? One reason I did it was because I had a real live story to end it with about a family who were “Good Samaritans.” They opened their home to a Mexican mother with four children. And for three months twelve people lived in one house while they got on their feet. During that time, the host family invited their guests to study the Bible with them, as well as attend their church. This was 1971, and they became first Hispanic family to become Christians at that church. Out of that invitation came a university professor, who was also a missionary in Mexico for almost ten years, of whom two of their children are missionaries in China. The church happened to be the College Church of Christ in Fresno, Calif. The Good Samaritan story does not ask who our neighbor is, but to whom will we be a neighbor?
The problem is that Jesus, in telling the story, knew we all want to “justify” ourselves in deciding who the neighbor is. This is why the Good Samaritan (GS) story is accepted, while at the same time allowing us to defend an open prejudice against Samaritan-types. Just as “Samaritan” in Jesus’ day referred to a class of people, rather than the individual, so it is today. Today the primary targets are the Muslims. A person is not a Muslim, “they” are Muslims, meaning they are all alike. However, what Jesus was teaching had nothing to do with religion or nationality.
In the most recent Christian Chronicle, there is the story of Salah Sabdow Farah , a Muslim teacher in Kenya. Islamic Muslims ambushed a bus filled with 100 Muslim and Christian passengers. They demanded the passengers split up into groups of Muslims and Christians. Farah and several other Muslim passengers refused, saying, “Kill all of us or leave us alone.” The report didn’t say any of the Christians said anything like that. Two people died in the attack and Farah was wounded.
Contrast that with the words we hear of hatred and fear from Christian churches across America.
Farah died from his wounds in that December attack. A picture of him in the hospital accompanied the article. Before he died this Muslim teacher spoke to Voice of America. “I ask my brother Muslims to take care of the Christians so that the Christians also take care of us. And let us help one another and let us live together peacefully.” Would Jesus agree with that? That sounds like a statement Jesus would make. It’s a Godly statement, worthy of acceptance.
I found it interesting that the author of the article asked that we pray that Muslims “will come to know and accept Christ.” That’s understandable. But the next “prayer” was to “pray for more Muslims like Farah.” I certainly agree with that. Farah was a Muslim teacher who died as the result of defending Christians. In other words, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Or, in Farah’s case, some of different belief. I might also add that we should pray for more Christians like Farah.
The danger is painting everyone with the same brush or prejudice. All Samaritans are bad, so there can’t be a good one, or countless good ones who act as the “neighbor” should. Muslim terrorists are bad, so all Muslims are bad. The list is sadly and historically endless.
Jesus is asked by the “expert in the law” what was needed to have eternal life. Jesus asked what the law said. The law said a lot more than loving God and the neighbor, but that answer, says Jesus, is the correct one. The correct one for what? How to have eternal life. One question, one answer. However, it’s not enough for the “expert”. So Jesus tells the GS story and asked, “Which one was the neighbor?” Meaning, which one did what it takes to have eternal life? The answer, the one who showed mercy. So the Samaritan, Jew, Muslim, Christian, whoever, fictional or real, who acts like that has done what it takes to have eternal life, so says Jesus.
So it’s not about who you are, it’s about what you are that gives eternal life. For Jesus, it was based on mercy.
VOL. 28 MARCH 6, 2016 NO. 9&10
CONCERNS: Betty Foy is very ill at this time. Hospice is with she and Larry. Stephanie Dixon will be going to North Carolina next week for cancer surgery on her nose, which may require a skin graft. T. J. Hall is dealing with a bad cold. Judy is having vision problems, but the medication seems to be helping. Their grandson, R. J. Is still waiting on tests concerning his vision problems. Joni and Alan Beach will be spending time in NC due to the health of Joni’s parents, especially her mother. Joni also asks prayers for her aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter may need surgery as the result of an accident which happened some time ago. Philip Pierce’s mother is in a Lynchburg hospital being treated for cancer. Teryn Gaynor’s mother continues with cancer treatment. It was good to see Wayne Phlegar able to be with us last Sunday. Remember Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber. Marjorie Wilson, (cancer) Melanie Gentry, David Albert, Sandy Blanchard and those carrying for her. Kim’s friend, Mary (MS), Daniel Ray Barns Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson (MS) Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum and her friend, Sean, Jim and Mary smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 7-12
Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 14-19
Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12
Many thanks to Lyn Jordan for removing the sections of the tree which fell in the front yard, as well as all the limbs etc. Wayne Flora had cut it up one evening after work. Also to Mike Branch and Holly Wagner for stacking the broken pieces for easier removal.
If you were not here last Sunday to say goodbye to Jeff and Kirissa, you can catch a picture of them being presented with a going away gift on the church Facebook page, When we get their new address, we will print it in the Sunday handout.
When we come together to worship there are several ways in which we might help. Certain events in our lives can take us out of town or otherwise prevent us from helping during the worship service. First of all, we do appreciate those who so willingly offer to help with the service, as well as those who are asked to fill in at the last minute. However, perhaps we might take some time and ask ourselves if there is something we can do that we haven’t yet done in bringing about the worship service. Take a look at the duty roster and see if there is something you would be willing to do. If you will, contact Erma Williams or Wayne Flora.
THE SUNDAY ADULT CLASS
The adult class on Sunday is growing due to the study of the Old Testament being read in book form with no chapters and verses. This has produced a lively discussion from the class along with the leading of Del Bolin. There is still time to jump in because we are finding much to talk about without moving too fast.
JUST A WORD
Several things are in the works. We will be silencing heat and air conditioning noise in the adult classroom. The duct work will be rerouted to the hallway, and storage space will be added beneath the addition to the wall. The blower noise can make it very hard to hear in that room. So if you see a little dust, you’ll know what it’s all about.