Summary: The good in us must come out of us.
I am again humbled and delighted to have been extended the invitation to be here at First Presbyterian Church as we continue what I believe is an honorable fellowship of pulpit exchange. I only hope and pray that your Pastor is receiving the kind of warmth and hospitality that I have received from you today. What a great subject that we are declaring in our pulpits today as we remember Dr. King’s life and legacy.
The story of the Good Samaritan is more than just a New Testament narrative of a parabolic principle as taught by Christ. If we walk away from this story only impressed with the parable and the presentation of the story, and not be challenged and perhaps be changed by the principles, we may have missed the essence of the story. This story certainly captures for me a larger, deeper, and challenging lesson that goes beyond the Priest, the Levite, the Samaritan, and the injured man on that Jericho Road. This story in many ways challenges the faith of the church and the congregants. The story is initially born out of a theological discussion on eternal life that was asked by a well trained and perhaps wealthy lawyer. And the theological question ends up on a roadside situation of giving first aid. Jesus handled that initial question so well, and rooted it in the very fiber and faith of the questioners faith. The young lawyer offered a rather sarcastic question that centered on the subject, who is my neighbor? The young lawyer clearly knew who is neighbor was, it was anybody that looked like him, anybody who lived like him, anybody who acted like him, anybody who lived in his proximity of life. Jesus takes that question and hurdles it not just back to him, but that question reverberates in the echoes of our hearts, minds, and community. And perhaps it should be raised in the sacred sanctuary of our places of worship. Who is my neighbor? Jesus chose not to give him a definition of a neighbor, but a demonstration of one. There may lay the deficits and stagnation of this church age, we are so busy defining love, justice, peace, and power. We are so busy defining Jesus, God, righteousness, unity, and what we need really are more demonstrations and not definitions. We need demonstrations couched in authentic relationships and not definitions couched in religiosity.
Dr. King in his analogy and application of this story said that the Priest and the Levite saw this man on the road, and the question that was foremost within them was, “if I stop and help this man what would happen to me?”
The Good Samaritan saw this same man on the road in the same condition, but the question was different, “if I do not stop and help this man, what will happen to him?” Jesus in this story in my opinion helps us to really look at the real significance and definition of faith, love, and the community of mankind in the context of both culture and faith. So the greater question of this text perhaps should be, “What gets in your way from being a Good Samaritan?” I would suggest that it would be the same thing that got in the way of the Priest and the Levite.
I. The Priest and the Levite were too busy being Religious.
It’s possible that we can place so much emphasis on being religious that we cease to be relevant. They were busy being representatives of religion that they ultimately misrepresented the religion.
Real religion is not about titles, it’s about a testimony.
Real religion is not about positions, it is about purpose.
Real religion is not about whom people say we are, it’s who we really are.
The church must be careful that we do not become so religious that we cease to be righteous. We must guard against being too spiritually sterile, that we become spiritually stagnate and stoic.
Because the real test is not what the external garments say we are, it’s the internal guidance and attitudes that dictates how we behave.
What got in the Priest and the Levite's way was their sense of being too busy in being religious. And any religion that is always up to God and never down to man is a to busy religion. The Priest and Levite were so heavenly minded that they were of no earthly good.
II. The Good Samaritan Saw the Man's Need!
The Samaritan did not allow culture to get in the way of compassion. The Samaritan saw that the man was a Jew and he knew that he was a Samaritan, but his need did not get in the way of their history. We are too often guilty of letting history contaminate our future and rob us of the present.