“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Luke 10:27 (NIV)
I want to look at the parable of the good Samaritan today with a new perspective that you might not have considered before.
I’ve been living with these passages of Scripture for many months now, as I believe Jesus’ teachings on being a neighbor can transform how we all serve as Christ followers. This view also has incredible relevance for where Compassion is today as a ministry and how God is leading us into the future.
Let’s look at Luke 10:25–37. The passage starts with an expert in the law approaching Jesus with a question. It seems the expert was looking to justify himself when he asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
I find this particular exchange so compelling because of the counterintuitive nature of Jesus’ response.
In reply, Jesus tells a story about a traveler who was attacked by robbers, beaten and left alone alongside of the road. A priest and a Levite both saw him and passed by on the other side, ignoring the injured man. But a Samaritan traveling the road saw his condition, and his heart went out to him. He bandaged his wounds and led him to an inn to be cared for.
Jesus subtly but powerfully addresses the original question of “Who is my neighbor?” with a question of his own. To focus his listeners on the right thing, he asks, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor?”
Rather than providing a list of neighbors to care for, which I’m sure would have been compelling, Jesus was calling this leader to follow the example of the good Samaritan first. To be the neighbor before serving the neighbor!
Jesus was essentially challenging him to become the kind of person who would reflexively and naturally have mercy and compassion on anyone who comes his way, regardless of any human label or ethnicity.
Jesus was more concerned about the condition of his heart than his to-do list.
The expert in the law was focused on what he could do. But Jesus was focused on who he was. And that’s always the case with Jesus. He’s always more concerned with what’s going on in our hearts first. He knows that everything we do — for good or bad — flows out of that.
What that tells me is that in our collective ministry to disciple children, we must first be disciples ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have.
And I believe the more we live out the truth of this parable, the more we will be able to realize our true God-given potential to serve children in poverty. Emulating that good neighbor will help us best serve other neighbors with the right heart and in the right way.
The most significant contribution you can make to those around you is not anything you do. It’s the kind of person — or the kind of neighbor — you are becoming in Christ. That’s what will unlock your ability to serve neighbors in profound, life-changing ways.
So, what kind of neighbor would people around you say that you are?
At Compassion, we’re working to become a neighbor-centric ministry from top to bottom. That includes finding ways to super-serve all of the neighbors God has placed before us: our children, front-line church partners, supporters, workforce and other ministry partners.
We also know that each one of us individually can never become that kind of neighbor unless we put Jesus in charge of that journey.
With Jesus fully in charge of our hearts, we will be able to realize our true God-given potential to reach the most children possible, through best serving the neighbors who partner with us in this cause.
Just think what God can do through an unstoppable movement of Jesus-following child advocates sacrificially loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, strength and minds, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of the children, may it be so.