See Your Neighborhood: Neighboring with Kindness
Dear Kaleid Women:
Jesus famously gave a definition of neighborliness when He told the parable of the Good Samaritan. For a fresh perspective, let’s read it in the Message translation from Eugene Peterson.
We enter the story when a religious scholar asks a question: “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
Jesus answered by telling a story.
“There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
A few things stand out in this story on this Friday morning.
First, this is a story of busyness encountering need. All three people who passed by were on their way somewhere, doing something. They were busy taking care of important things in their day-to-day lives.
And, this is a story of vulnerability encountering vulnerability. The Samaritan was vulnerable because he was an outcast from Jewish society. The injured man was vulnerable in that moment because he had been attacked and left to die.
Also, this is a story of compassion encountering pain. The Samaritan man’s heart went out to the injured man when he saw his pain, and he did what he could to make him comfortable.
According to Jesus, kindness is what makes us “become a neighbor.” Sometimes kindness means slowing down in a moment of true busyness to see the other. Sometimes kindness means letting our own vulnerability make us more willing to engage with the other’s vulnerability. Sometimes kindness means engaging the other’s visible need out of our heartfelt compassion.
So, today, as we move through a busy Friday, let’s invite slow, vulnerable, compassionate kindness to form us into good neighbors.