Social justice is the “terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.” As a society, we see a lot of social injustice happening within our communities and I think that the Bible gives us a great example of the way that we can handle social injustice. In Luke10:25-37 we see an expert of the Law that is testing Jesus about how to inherit eternal life. Jesus flips the question and asks him, “What is written in the Law?” and the expert replies by saying, “’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.’” Jesus tells him that he has “answered correctly” and that if he does this he will inherit eternal life, but the expert of the law goes on to ask, “And who is my neighbor?”
This is where Jesus gives him The parable of the Good Samaritan and in this parable; we see four characters: The Priest, the Levite, the Samaritan and the Traveler on the road. The Priest shows us an example of what it looks like if I tell myself that since I did not cause the problem, it’s not my problem. However, as a Christian it is my problem and I am not called to live a life of convenience, but rather a life of conviction. If I am not careful, I might walk past the problems that I have a solution and answer for, just like the Priest does in this parable.
The next character that Christ includes in this parable is the Levite. A Levite is an assistant to a Priest and if we are not careful, we may also find ourselves playing this role too. This role is the idea that when we see a problem that seems bigger than ourselves, we immediately feel unqualified to solve the problem. We may feel like it is the job of the Priest or someone with a higher title than us. However, God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called, if we are willing and obedient to him.
Third, we see the Samaritan. The Samaritan takes pity on the traveler on the road. He goes above and beyond to care for him and make sure that he is okay. If we look at the culture of this time period, the Samaritan would have been the least qualified of all of these titles that passed by the man; however he is the one that fulfilled the task that all of their titles held. He is the one who took on the call that we are convicted by as Christians. We are not called to “do church”, but we are called to “be the church”, to live a better life than the words that we preach.
The final character that Jesus talks about in this parable is the Traveler on the road. This character is broken, beaten, and half dead; however, this character is representative of us. We are the traveler on the road and Christ is the Good Samaritan. We are broken, dead in sin and beaten down, but Christ doesn’t just have pity on us. He has compassion and mercy on us. He came down to show us and live out the task and title of Messiah and Christ. He came to show us what a good neighbor is. He does not answer the question of “Who is my neighbor?” that the expert of the law asks, but he instead flips the question into our court and says “Are you a good neighbor?” Are you going to be the neighbor who passes by or are you going to be the neighbor that stops and goes above and beyond to show love and compassion like Christ has done for us?
Christ challenges us to fulfill the title that we carry when we walk with him and shows us that if our hearts are in the right place, we will show radical mercy to those around us. We won’t ask the question of “Who is my neighbor?” but rather the question of “Am I a good neighbor?”
That is my challenge to us today and everyday; allow people to belong well before they believe. Show them what a good neighbor is, rather than waiting until they are a part of your neighborhood.