Luke 10:30-31 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
As some may know or remember, a priest would be considered ceremonially unclean if he touched this man. He would then have to be separated for a time from his people and experience rituals common to becoming clean again. This would take some time and effort, and he could not perform his duties as priest during this period. It makes sense that he would want to avoid the beaten man. Knowing this background, it changes my view somewhat in a couple of ways:
· I have judged the priest harshly since first hearing this parable. The parable focuses on what constitutes a good neighbor. For years, being a Jesus follower, I have been focused on the negative of this story and that focus has been directed toward the Priest and the Levite. I had not put together the priest’s actions being directly related to his position. I have associated the priest with the Pharisees and negatively judged the priest. I now understand better why he did it in light of his position. This doesn’t mean I condone his actions. It does mean that I identify with the inconvenience caused for a man in his position.
· I am more like the priest than I would like to admit. I cannot say that I would have acted any differently. I hold a position in life where if I associate with something unclean, the inconvenience of any kind of ritualistic cleansing would lead me to avoid the situation. Obviously, I do not have to go through any process to become clean. However, if it was observed that I was in association with uncleanliness, I would have some explaining to experience with those in my larger religious circle.
This revelation to me is convicting. I work hard on being authentic. I want to be the same in character everywhere. I desire to serve without caring what others think and pleasing only the Lord. Yet, I still avoid situations where I could be a good neighbor in order to save my Christian “image”.
I commonly advise students who ae struggling with fitting to examine the group they are trying to fit in with. I make note that if this group cannot accept him/her for who he/she is and who he/she associates with, then that group is not who he/she should try to fit in with. Wow! I need to take my own advice! If helping a “sinful” person through his “stuff” and pain is going to reflect badly on me with a certain group, maybe this is not the group I need to associate with.
The challenge I receive from this is to serve where God leads. The call is there, and I need not worry about image. From this I am reminded of James 4:17 “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” This includes helping those what might cause me to be viewed as “unclean”. Yet it is God I am pleasing, not man.
1. How were you challenged by this thought today?
2. Which of the three passers-by would you say you are? Explain.
3. What are your thoughts about the priest being inconvenienced by having to be cleansed?
4. Where do you disagree with this article?
5. What action do you need to take this week in light of what you have read today? What is God calling you to do?
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