This is the final of a five part study on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We started out by looking at the context to the parable and noting that we are not the hero (Samaritan) of the story. We then looked at why it is that we pass by those in need. Next we looked at some of the early Church Father’s take on the parable. Last time we looked at how this parable might impact how we are to “Be Jesus” to others and what it might look like to minister to people as if we are ministering To Jesus.
As if all of that wasn’t enough to face, today I want to talk about what we in the Western Church are probably the worst at. That is letting others “Be Jesus” to us.
Let me say two things from the start before I dive in.
- I’m not pointing fingers in a accusatory way at any one. I could and if I did it would be a long blog and many from all sides would be the target. But that is not the point at all.
- When I talk here about cross cultural, I’m not talking simply about ethnicity. Culture is more than that. It’s certainly a part of it and in particularly in our current western climate. But it’s not the only place this applies. Not at all.
I think Christians of many denominations and backgrounds rightly strive and teach that we should “Be Jesus” to everyone – even those we don’t like or are different than us. Different in ethnicity, standing, background etc. I think that we have gotten better at the idea of what we do to the least in our society we do to Jesus. We haven’t “arrived” in either category but we at least have some good head knowledge here. We think about it.
But when it comes to letting someone “Be Jesus” to us, well that’s a different story. This is probably especially true of those who “do ministry” or those who are in charge of things and are Christians. The problem with seeing our role as only “Being Jesus” and “Serving Jesus” is that we can accidentally become the hero in the story. When the Church Fathers say the Samaritan represents Jesus, that stops that whole idea in its tracks.
We want to do right. We want to represent Jesus. We want people to know Jesus. We want people to turn to Jesus. We want to advance the Kingdom. We desire racial reconciliation. We want to help the poor person and less fortunate. All of that is good.
But here’s the catch. In order to do that, I have to be open to let people in a different place or culture than me “Be Jesus” to me. Otherwise we won’t be on the same field. We won’t be equal. We won’t be reconciled. We won’t be together.
Let me get practical. Am I willing to let the janitor be Jesus to me? How about the rich man from the “One Percent” be Jesus to me? Am I willing to let the homeless man be Jesus to me? How about the black pastor or the white pastor? Am I willing to let the Latino or Asian be Jesus to me? The African Refugee? The Democrat? The Republican? The Boomer? The Millennial? The Californian? The New Yorker? The Midwesterner? The Southerner? The Russian? The Palestinian? The African? Heck the woman? Or the man?
Unless or until our answer is yes, then we aren’t in it together. As long as they are only the ones we minister to then we are missing it. As long as they are only the ones we must convince we are missing it. Helping the poor guy get a job is nice. Seeing the poor guy as an equal human is better.
This is part of what Paul means when he says there is neither greek nor jew, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female. He doesn’t mean there aren’t males and females or greeks and jews or slaves or free men. What he means is that in Christ we are all of equal value. We should Be Jesus to each other.
Look, this unlocks so many things if we will let it. It changes how we go into conversations. It changes how we partner in ministry. It changes how we do reconciliation. It changes how we serve people. It changes how we evangelize people. It crushes one of our most grave, if not the most grave, sin – pride.
We need to Be Jesus to others. We need to serve Jesus. And we need to let others Be Jesus to us. Even the Samaritan.