THE BETTER GOOD SAMARITAN
You are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). A man had been beaten and robbed along a dark stretch of road. A couple religious leaders came walking by, spotted the badly wounded man and moved over to the far side of the road to avoid him and any danger in his vicinity. But a foreigner saw the man and helped him get the care he needed. He was the one who truly loved his neighbor, according to Jesus.
What if week after week people were robbed and horribly wounded who came down that road. Would it be good enough for the Good Samaritan to help the victims? Would that be the most loving thing to do?
Wouldn’t it be better for him to go to the governing authorities in the area to insist that better lighting be put on the road and that the road be better patrolled so there would be no more victims? And if the authorities wouldn’t listen to him, wouldn’t it be wise for him to enlist other people to go with him to insist that the government act so people would not continue to be victimized on that stretch of road?
It is good to help victims of misfortune. But it is not good enough to only help victims without also working to change the situation that creates victims.
Helping victims is direct service. Working to change the situation that creates victims is political action. Both are necessary if we are going to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” as Jesus commands us to do (Mark 12:31). It is nonsense to claim that we can or should separate our faith from politics. Yes, entangling our faith with party politics should be avoided. But political advocacy for the safety and welfare of others is essential if we “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.”
This week another horrifying tragedy took place with the mass shooting in Las Vegas. It is certainly right for us to pray for the many broken-hearted families of the victims. And it is right to give thanks for the courageous first responders who were at the scene to help the victims of the shooting. But is that enough if we “love our neighbors as we love ourselves”? I believe it is crucial that we also advocate for policies that make it less likely that tragedies such as this one continue to happen in the future. And there are policies that work to reduce such violence because they have been instituted in other countries. Nowhere else in the developed world do mass shootings happen on a regular basis.
We need to pray. But we also need to advocate for sensible policies like mandatory universal background checks, outlawing large-capacity magazines, banning gun sales to the mentally ill, those who have engaged in domestic violence, convicted stalkers, outlaw the kinds of weapons most often used in crimes and mass shootings. None of these measures restrict hunting weapons.
I am sick of hearing dubious interpretations of the Second Amendment and ridiculous arguments against reasonable gun laws. Followers of Jesus cannot retreat into cozy cocoons of personal spirituality and act like we have no responsibility. We must not be among those who make excuses for why things can’t change. We need to be the kind of Good Samaritans who don’t just care for the wounded victims but work to change the situation where so much wounding happens.
By the way, I don’t claim the take on the Good Samaritan is original with me. But I do believe it is right on the mark.
Grace and Peace,