By Pastor Tim Meendering, Rockford Reformed Church
Jesus told his disciples that they were the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). In those days, salt was used to season food and it was pressed into meat and fish in order to preserve it. And so he was teaching his followers to work toward preserving and making their community better. It’s about restoration, renewal and a reversal of the effects of sin all around us.
Today, that could involve picking up trash or volunteering in a community event. But Jesus also emphasized how we are to relate specifically to our neighbors. And so while the Pharisee law expert who initiated Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan was really looking for a way to justify himself as he focused on his own little circle of friends, Jesus’ teaching made it clear that we are to love anyone who is in need (Luke 10:25-37).
Every day, as we meet neighbors and circulate in our community, there are people who are struggling and we are able to make a difference IF, like the Good Samaritan, we will move toward and care for them. On the other hand, it is often much easier to, like the priest and the Levite in the parable, “pass by on the other side.” The Samaritan “took pity” on the beaten down man, “went to him” and “took care of him.” There is deep and genuine compassion followed by action.
And so how can we genuinely be a part of making our community better and loving our neighbor? Why would I risk my comfort and sacrifice my time and resources for people who many times don’t deserve any of it? Religion and doing church and busyness can be the worst obstacles toward hearts that care and move us toward action.
The only way for my heart to be changed enough to deeply care and sacrificially act for others is for me to absorb this truth: Because of my sin, I am the man who was beaten down, robbed and left for dead. I am also the priest, the Levite and Pharisee law expert with a self-preserving heart that really doesn’t care enough to act. And yet, Jesus is the ultimate Good Samaritan who comes to me, cares for me, and takes the ultimate action of suffering death on the cross to pay for my guilt and sin.
People are unmoved and unchanged by a love that is shallow and convenient. We CAN make a difference with deep love for those in need when we see that we are the needy who are deeply loved by Jesus. Jesus was stripped, beaten and brought to death so that he could rise up to care for you, heal your wounds and restore you to new life.