The event I am about to share did not make the major news and was not a lead story locally, but you may have heard about it. Things like this are occurring way too often. Criminal behavior is commonplace and many do not even pay attention to what goes on around them. Then events like this hit too close to home.
A local man was traveling from Tuscaloosa to Atlanta on I-20. He left while it was still dark and stopped at the State Line for a Snickers and caffeine. When he returned to his car, they were waiting on him. The two hijackers forced their way into the car, before he could drive off. They told him to keep going toward Atlanta. When he reached under his seat for a gun, one of the hijackers, wrestled the gun from his hand and made him pull over on the interstate. They took him into the woods and beat him up, shot him, took his wallet, and drove off his car.
Although he was severely injured and losing blood from his wounds, he was able to crawl back to the shoulder of the road and lean against a guardrail. He hoped that as the Sun came up, someone would see him.
Someone did see him. An elder on his way to Hartsfield-Jackson to fly to a business meeting. The elder saw him and thought, “that drunk, looks like he has been out here all night. I don’t have time or I would stop and talk to him about his choices.” He changed lanes and kept driving.
Soon afterward a deacon over benevolence drove by. He saw the man and thought, “I think he has been by the building before. I wonder how many churches he has bummed off of.” The deacon drove on to a men’s prayer breakfast.
By now you know that this is not a true story of a man traveling from Tuscaloosa to Atlanta, but is a modern version of Jesus’ parable in Luke 10. But let me keep going to make my point – well – Jesus’s point.
All seems hopeless for the victim when a car stops near him. Out steps a man and his wife. She is dressed in modest clothing and is wearing a hajib. This Muslim man and his wife have a first aid kit and do their best to slow the bleeding and to clean the wounds. The call 911 and the Georgia Highway Patrol and stay with the man even after help arrives. This couple even follows the ambulance to the hospital and spends the rest of the night in the ER keeping a check on the man’s progress. Before they leave, they give the hospital and the GHP their contact information and offer to help off-set the hospital’s cost if the man is uninsured. The promise to come back through and check on him later.
When Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, the question He answers is “who is my neighbor?” The answer is obvious. The Samaritan (Muslim in our version) is the one who proves to be the better neighbor. Jesus tells his inquirer to “Go, and a do likewise.” (Luke 10:37).
My neighbor is a person in need. Maybe their needs are physical, maybe their needs are to have a friend. Maybe their needs are spiritual in nature.
- A neighbor is not always religiously the same as I am.
- A neighbor is not always ethnically the same.
- A neighbor is not someone just like me.
- They may not even live in the same subdivision, apartment, or housing area as you.
- PEOPLE are my neighbors. I must show them compassion and love them as I love myself.
Go be a good neighbor. Cross social barriers, take risks, sacrifice time, sacrifice energy, and yes you may even have to sacrifice money, but be a good neighbor.