To The Editor:
I read the letter, “Worried About Democrats in This Country” found on these pages in last Saturday’s Missourian. I’m not sure that I agree with much of it, but rather than dwell on disagreements I wanted to touch on two critical concepts where the letter writer and I do agree. Grace (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) as a free gift of God, and the concept of not forgetting our neighbors.
That led me to Scripture, particularly Luke Chapter 10, in which Jesus offers us the parable of the Good Samaritan; given in response to a lawyer’s question asking, “Who is my neighbor?” In this familiar story the Samaritan, a hated and despised foreigner, stops to aid an injured traveler on the dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho after a priest and a Levite, both probably fellow Judeans, passed by the injured man. The Samaritan stops and binds the traveler’s wounds, takes him to a local inn, and pays the innkeeper two denarius (two days’ wages) to care for him, promising to pay whatever more is needed upon his return.
This story is remarkable for a couple of reasons. The individual showing mercy is not a fellow countryman, but a hated foreigner. I believe Jesus was challenging his audience not just to question their concept of who is a neighbor, but to see others we may despise, fear, loathe, or even hate, as loving and merciful people in their own right, offering their service as witness to God’s Grace in ways we find hard to accept.
In this life each of us walks in faith down our own dangerous road to Jericho. Each of us facing our own challenges, such as cultural or demographic changes, that test faith. Will we grow fearful and defensive? Will we allow the fear and anger boiling inside of us to seek protection from those changes and the people promoting them? Can we resist temptations that may drive us to lash out at others in frustration?
I’m thankful God’s Grace is a free gift to all people. But it’s clear that becoming a follower of Christ has a price. A price the Good Samaritan gladly paid. Are we in today’s world of hyperpartisanship and factionalism up to the challenge? Can we accept the good intentions of others we despise even if their concept of mercy as a witness to God’s Grace is different from ours?