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John F. Kennedy, in quoting Dante’s Inferno said the “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who during a time of moral crisis, do nothing.” “They passed by on the other side.” They did nothing. They were good… good for nothing. Compassion compels the Samaritan into action on behalf of the wounded.
The innkeeper treats the problem professionally. He agrees to take care of the man for a fee. Who’s the hero of the story? Not the innkeeper, he’s a hired hand, an HMO. It’s a business proposition for him.
Theologians like to ask questions. “What one thing must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus tells him to answer his own question from scripture. He says love God and love people. Jesus says do this and you will live. He didn’t say he would inherit eternal life. Maybe the theologian was asking the wrong question. He was focused on inheriting eternal life and wanted to know what one deed would obligate God to give him what he wanted. Jesus tells him a story because he failed to realize that inheriting eternal life comes from living life in the present tense with a heart of compassion that compels one to action to aid someone in need.
PAGE 2 TROUBLE IN THE WORLD: PEOPLE ARE BEATEN AND BLEEDING AND WE LACK COMPASSION
The majority of people in the story lacked compassion and concern. Just as the robbers who beat the man traveling to Jericho, John 10:10 tells us Satan has come to steal, kill and destroy. Our people in our churches are being attacked, beaten and robbed. Many in your church are lying half dead in the road (in the pews). Satan has viciously thrown people down. He has stolen their self-respect; he has destroyed their dreams, their noble thoughts, and their noble deeds. People are badly wounded. They’ve been terribly used and abused in a world that lacks compassion.
The great need today is for us to recognize the wounded people in our life. It’s easy to see physical wounds, but how can we recognize the wounded soul? Numerous wounded people come to our churches only to be misunderstood and re-injured. Churches too often shoot their wounded. We often misjudge them as rebels, cynics. They’re unfriendly and weird. We must learn to look beyond the surface and see people with wounded souls. They are wounded from physical abuse, spiritual abuse, and the pain of death or desertion in their life. Some have self-inflicted wounds from a lifestyle of sin, drug and alcohol abuse, homosexuality or adultery. Some are wounded with the guilt and shame of Internet pornography. They’re often brooding and angry because they are injured. They’re not very friendly.
In the movie Forrest Gump there is a scene that I think will help us. Forrest says, “It’s funny how you remember some things. I remember the bus ride on the first day of school very well.” Forrest is sitting on a tree stump as the big yellow school bus stops and his mother encourages him to do well in school. The lonely and frightened boy with the big silver braces boards the gigantic yellow bus, and as he walks down the aisle looking
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