Jesus was asked about the greatest commandments in the law. He tells them they are to “love God” and “love your neighbor.” The question is then, “Who is my neighbor?” He responds with a parable we call “The Good Samaritan.” The point of the parable is to explain, “who is my neighbor,” but it also reveals what our love looks like as a follower of Jesus.
If you remember the story, a man is jumped, robbed, beaten, and left for dead. A priest comes by and ignores the man. Then a Levite does the same thing. Finally, there comes a Samaritan. This man comes upon the injured fellow and stops to help him. He bandages his wounds, takes him to an inn, and leaves money to nurse him back to health. It is a compelling picture of what it means for a follower of Jesus to love his neighbor.
I also notice what the Samaritan did not do. He did not form a protest of the Roman soldiers, telling them that they should be more diligent in protecting people. He did not put together a silent march to walk through the streets of Jerusalem to raise awareness of the violence. He did not take to the media to promote one politician or political agenda that might bring about change. He did not attempt any of the modern methods to bring about change.
This man’s focus was not on changing society or the world. His purpose was to help this one man he encountered that day. His proximity made him a neighbor. In this story, I don’t think Jesus called us to change the world. I think he invited me to change MY world.
I wonder what would happen if we all took that approach. Instead of trying to change the world as a whole, we focused on improving the world around us. What if we try to help the people we encounter every day? What if we each one of us went into the world as a servant of God in our work and on our street?
Too often, we step over the needs of people in an effort to make significant sweeping changes. We neglect the immediate for the national issues. Maybe there is a place for that as corruption and evil exist in the current system. I fear that the man lies in the ditch while we grandstand the cause we think needs addressed.
Helping the one person that my life passes is not very glorious or media worthy, but it changes the world, one person at a time. When each one of us takes our call seriously to change our world, together, we will change the world.