Monday, July 20, 2015

Put Some Fruit On It

Just when you thought the Fourth of July was two weeks behind us, here comes along another round of fireworks. This past weekend saw many emotions and attitudes flare up as protestors in Columbia, South Carolina gathered to verbalize their support for the Confederate flag. One such unidentified protestor felt the heat, literally, of the mid-July afternoon swelter. His body, exhausted and limp, was seen in a photo widely circulated around the web. Normally, a journalistic photo is not awe inspiring, but this weekend’s activities and the entirety of the picture tell a story we should never want to forget. You see, Leroy Smith, a 25 year law enforcement veteran, was on duty for this highly charged, KKK rally. Officer Smith is a man of greater melanin (skin pigment) than the unidentified KKK supporter suffering from the effects of the day’s climate. The photo reveals Mr. Smith helping the man to find relief from his sickly state. Sadly, I wish this photo was not news-worthy. Sadly, I wish racism was a thing of the past sitting and rotting in a city dump. But we live in a world where Satan dwells and wreaks havoc on those who wish to join in on his deeds of the flesh…and we must deal with it in a fashion like Mr. Smith did this weekend…with compassion.

A too familiar parable Jesus teaches regarding ‘who is my neighbor?’ should resonate every time we are faced with hatred, strife, or just simple inconvenience from another human. As we look at Luke 10:25-37, a Samaritan (one despised for their ethnicity and not considered a “neighbor” in New Testament times) rises to the occasion to help a fellow human being suffering from injuries sustained from a robbery. What lessons can we take away from the Savior’s parable and apply to our daily walk and interaction with a world needing to be tended to? According to the text, the Samaritan was on a journey. Without putting too much into the text, I can only imagine myself half-way across the country on my way with my family on vacation when all of a sudden I notice someone in need. And then my thoughts and emotions kick-in to overdrive, “Hey, you’re on vacation. Let someone else take care of them.” Or, “Man, I can’t afford to stop now. My time is valuable and I only have so much vacation to ‘burn’”. Whereas, locally, if something like this happened, well, then I would give it some serious thought, right? Here’s some points to consider:

The Samaritan provided
Treatment for the wound.
We need to help ‘stop the bleeding’ of those in need. Yes, the parable discusses a man left for dead, but let’s also take this to a spiritual level, a level where you know of someone who has been left for dead spiritually and emotionally. You’re thinking “Wow! That’s way too much for me to handle”. “I’m not skilled in helping someone with fresh ‘wounds’”. Well, consider these options;
A. Asking them some questions about themselves. You know, finding out where they are with the Lord (their spiritual walk), for example. You may quickly find out a lot about them and sometimes more than you really want, but the idea is you won’t know where the pain is without asking where the hurt originated.
B. Letting them know a treatment is necessary, even when they say they will be alright. Have you ever come across a person with an injury who is pale and ready to pass out and they inform you that they will be alright?
C. Pray with them! Let them see you are concerned for them and that you rely upon God for their and your own treatment.
D. Put some FRUIT on the wound. Folks, this is where Galatians 5:22-23 may very well pay-off. And I believe this is the very point of Jesus’ parable. Genuinely demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law. Do this because Christ did so for us.

Secondly, the Samaritan provided...
Transportation for the weary.
I know I do not possess all the answers to life’s questions, but I do know that when asked about the Bible, church, or our Lord and need an answer I can navigate the weary to Scripture or transport them to a brother or sister who can help with their ailment or question. All too often we fear helping the helpless because we don’t know all the answers. God doesn’t expect us to have all the answers. Remember, the church can act often times as a triage. We have many brethren working together to bring lives either back into service or to join the emergency team. No doctor has done heart surgery all by himself.

Finally, the Samaritan provided...
Tender for the wretched.
The Samaritan took his own cash and doled it all out for the unknown “neighbor”. The need was great and the Samaritan was willing to spend his time, energy and resources to make sure this individual soul would recover and receive a fresh new beginning under not-so-desirable circumstances. The stakes are high, friend. The eternal souls of those around us need to be looked upon with a value that Jesus recognized. He recognized each person created is worthy of all expense to be reconciled. His blood is the only cure and we need to tend to those who are without the knowledge of compassion, without reconciliation with the Savior, even the unidentified.

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