Never underestimate the power of your words.
A long time ago, a man told a story. It’s a story that’s so ubiquitous in today’s culture that we literally have a law named after the protagonist.
In Jesus’ day, Samaritans were seen as the scum of the Earth. Their literal presence was blasphemy. The Jews were afraid that literally even just touching a Samaritan would instantly make them unclean.
Let’s read part of the story in Luke.
“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
Pause. Dude. I like to think of myself as a good person, but sometimes it’s hard to do even these kinds of things for people I know. This man that was injured and robbed is a complete stranger.
Jesus masterfully answers the expert in law’s question, “And who is my neighbor?” The man is essentially asking Jesus, “What is the bare minimum of love I can show and still keep the law?” So Jesus tells a story of someone who is culturally bad being culturally good. He intentionally reframes the narrative to dignify the undignified and to bring the prideful crashing down.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The man wouldn’t even call him a Samaritan. To him, his race was so dirty that he wouldn’t even say it. But Jesus dignified him. Jesus’ singular intentional voice for the disinherited has changed the course of history. When the “dirty, heretical, weak, immoral” Samaritans are remembered, we associate them with the word, “good.”
For Jesus to intentionally tell the story of the good Samaritan was politically charged. It was going against the grain. It was dignifying an entire people group when God’s people wanted to vilify them.
You can do the same thing today.
As a white man, I cannot fully understand the pain of my black friends. However, I understand enough that I know I should be outraged. I understand that Jesus would be shouting against oppression and would be with those that are oppressed.
So here’s one more voice joining the chorus of the hurting.
Black Lives Matter.
Jonny Wilczynski has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009.