Reading the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke today I noticed the two questions in the story.
The first set of questions was from a young man who asked Jesus what were the requirements of obtaining eternal life. Jesus said you could summarize the entire Law and Prophets with two basic commandments.
- Love the Lord with all your heart, your soul, your strength and your mind.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
At that, the young man then asked “Who is my neighbor?”
What follows is a story told by Jesus that has been retold over the years. Anyone who has attended church for any length of time has heard about the “Good Samaritan.” This story has been shared as a lesson to show us who our neighbor really is. The idea is anyone we come into contact with that needs help is our neighbor. Our neighbor is more than just the people who live next door to us.
While that is all well and good today I compared that young man’s question to the one Jesus asked him after He finished telling the story. When we look at Jesus’ question I think we might get a different take on the point of the story.
Jesus asked the young man “Which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” When he answered it was the one who actually took the time and spent of his own finances to help the man, Jesus told him to “go and do the same.”
From the young man’s perspective, the question was:
Who is my neighbor?
From Jesus’ perspective, the question was:
What kind of person do you want to be?
Have you ever stopped to think about that? What kind of person do you want to be?
It’s not just about acknowledging that everyone is my neighbor, but actually taking time to determine just what kind of person we desire to be.