Saturday, 6 October 2012

I'm your Neighbour too, cries the Church

Jesus response to a question regarding the identity of the "neighbour" is very popular not only to the people in the Church, but also those outside it. A lot has been written or said about The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

                           The Forgotten Neighbour
We are often told to put ourselves in the shoes of the bruised man who needed help. My focus of imagination for this article is not about a person. It's about the Church. It is very easy to forget that the Church is also our neighbour which needs our help. I can imagine a church out there on the road which is "bruised" and needs urgent help. The help the church need is not always financial, but human capacity and all its attributes.

                          Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
 Like the Priest and the Levite who saw the man needed help and walked off, many people have come to the church, seen the need and done nothing and just walked off. I am sure the priest and the Levite have reasons for not staying to help. So are the people who are walking off their church. People come to church with lots of expectations seeking fulfilment. When their expectations aren't fulfilled they walk off. People are shopping church pretty the same way they shop for grocery. With little complaint or dissatisfaction and they hit the exit button. The church is supposed to be a place where people who are hurt could go and receive healing. However, we shouldn't be quick to hit the exit button any time we feel hurt. All what we care is getting our needs fulfilled. Does it always have to be us? What about the church? It has needs too. Surely, if we need something from the church we must first put in something.

                         When staying isn't enough
There are some who seem to be patting themselves at the back that unlike those who walked off, they have stayed. It's good you've stayed but doing nothing during your time of staying isn't enough. The Samaritan in the story didn't get mention in the scripture because he stayed and watched while the bruised man suffered. He also didn't go out to town and complained about seeing a man bruised and needing help. The Samaritan didn't just pity the man and walked off. We are told the Samaritan soothed the man's wounds with medicine and bandaged. He also took the man to an inn and took care of him. It's what the Samaritan did to the bruised man which Christ praised. We aren't just called to come and sit in the pews. We need to get up and do something. The church would be much healthier if we all do something. What would you offer your "bruised" church?

                        Others would do It. 
Don't make mistake thinking others would do it. Of all the three (Priest, Levite, Samaritan) who witnessed the man's desperate need for help who would you think should have helped? You might think the priests should have helped because of his position in Society. The Levite who's of the same tribute of the suffering man didn't help. None of the two helped. The help came from the odd one, the Samaritan.

                      Feeling Insignificant?
What's the excuse for your inaction? Because you are new, young, past experience, foreigner, background or just think you're so insignificant? The good news is that God has excellent record of using insignificant places and people to achieve great things. You remember Bethlehem? If a Saviour was born in a small populated city of Bethlehem, then God could do anything at any place and with any one. "But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are" (1 Corinthians 1: 27-28) It was the despised Samaritan who saw the man's need; took pity and actually helped.

The church also has need needing attention. Would you just take pity and walk off? What have you got to soothe the "wounds" of your church? Would you offer advice, money, a singing voice, prayer, a smile, a kindness, a cuddle, phone call? Every little helps! When thinking of your neighbours, think of your church too. Whatever is good for your neighbour is good for your church too. The health of the church must concern all of us not just the few.