We are motivated to care for the needs of others because we were once needy, orphaned, spiritually dead, separated from God and without hope in the world. Then Christ came for us. God himself condescended to become like us so that our relationship with him might be restored through faith in his saving work. Recognizing this changes the way we read the Bible, which in turn changes the way we interact with vulnerable people.
The story of the Good Samaritan is a perfect example of how right understanding of the gospel changes how we read the narrative. Though tempted to place ourselves in the story as the Samaritan who helped the man beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road, we remember that we are the needy man, rescued by Jesus at our most vulnerable. And this changes everything about why and how we help others. We cannot serve from a place of pride or superiority when we’re playing a small part in a greater work that’s already been done for us.
This article encourages us to consider another role for ourselves in the passage– that of the scribe and the Pharisee. Even as we obey Jesus’ command to “go and do likewise,” we go with a humble heart that knows we get it wrong far more often than we get it right (Lk. 10:37).
Rediscovering our place in the story
- In what ways do we “pass by on the other side” of vulnerable people? Or, in what ways do we act like the Good Samaritan but do so in ways that advantage ourselves?
- How does reading the Bible like this run counter-intuitive to the way a lot of people approach short-term missions?