One day, a religious expert wanted to test Jesus, so he asked, “How do I experience God-quality life?”
Jesus answered, as he so often did, with a question, “What do you see in your own texts; how do you interpret them?”
The expert said, “We are to love God with all that we are. And we are to love our neighbors in the same way we love ourselves.”
Jesus replied, “Right on! Do this and you’ll experience God-quality life.”
But the expert wanted to somehow justify his authority. So he then asked Jesus, “Well, who is my neighbor?”
Jesus answered with a story …
“Once there was an American Christian walking on a rural road outside Atlanta. He was headed to Birmingham, but his car broke down several miles back. So he started walking, looking for signs of civilization. Instead, the underbelly of civilization found him. A beat-up F-150, headed the opposite direction, crossed the median and almost ran him over. He tumbled down the shoulder of the highway. Before he could get back up, three guys jumped out of the truck and beat him to within an inch of his life. They took his wallet, his smart phone, and even stripped him completely. The three guys hopped back in their truck, crossed back over the median and continued on their way, slightly richer with the man’s credit cards, $20 in cash, his phone, and the clothes off his back.
The man couldn’t move. He had broken ribs, a broken arm, and was slowly bleeding out.
Quite by chance, an evangelical pastor drove down the road about 10 minutes later. He slowed down as he saw the naked, bloodied man in the ditch on the side of the road. He rolled down his windows as he slowed, staring at the the man lying there. But he heard nothing and thought the poor guy was probably dead, or close to death. This was an important pastor with important things to do. He was even too busy to call 911. He rolled up his windows, stepped on the accelerator, and hurried on.
A few minutes later, a guy who was a board member at his church drove by. He noticed the man lying in a pool of his own blood, but didn’t even slow down. As he sped on, he picked up his cellphone and considered calling 911. But he was late for a church conference and had to give a financial report. So he thought better of it, and never called.
Just then, a despised and hated Muslim was driving by. This guy had immigrated to the USA as a child. His parents were refugees from a violent situation in the middle east.
This Muslim saw the man in the ditch. He pulled over onto the shoulder of the road, and turned on his hazard lights. He got out and knelt down by the man. He leaned his ear in close to the man’s mouth and detected slow, labored breathing. His heart was filled with compassion for the dying man. So the Muslim went back to his car and got his sports jacket from the back seat. He ripped off the sleeves to fashion a make-shift tourniquet for the man’s arm. He gently and cautiously picked up the man, walked out of the ditch to his car, and laid the man in the back of his car, the man’s blood oozing onto the leather seats. Then he drove over 40 miles to the nearest hospital. He called 911 ahead to let them know he was coming and to describe the condition of the injured man.
The hospital gave the Muslim some pushback about the man having no ID and possibly no insurance. The Muslim gave the hospital a written agreement to pay for all medical costs. The man recovered, all because of that Muslim.”
After he finished telling this story, he asked the religious expert, “Now who would you say acted like a neighbor to the man who was attacked?”
The expert replied, “The one who showed him mercy. The Muslim.”
Jesus said, “Yes. Now go live like that.”