No Apologizing

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Love your neighbor…except for that guy!


A family of disheveled, unkempt individuals was stranded by the side of a major road on a Sunday morning.  They were in obvious distress.  The mother was sitting on a ruined suitcase, hair uncombed, clothes in disarray, with a glazed look to her eyes, holding a smelly, poorly dressed, crying baby.  The father was unshaved, dressed in filthy cloths, a look of despair on his face as he tried to corral two other youngsters.  Beside them was a rundown old car that had obviously just given up. 

Down the road came a car driven by the local bishop; he was on his way to church.  And though the father of the family waved frantically, the bishop could not hold up his parishioners, so he acted as though he didn’t see them. 

Soon another car, and again the father waved furiously.  But the car was driven by the president of the Young Life Club, and he was late for a statewide meeting of Young Life presidents in a nearby city.  He, too, acted as though he did not see them and kept his eyes straight on the road ahead of him. 

The next car that came by was driven by an outspoken local atheist, who had never been to church in his life.  When he saw the family’s distress, he took them to a local motel, where he paid for a week’s lodging while the father found work.  He also paid for the father to rent a car so he could look for work and gave the mother cash for food and new clothes.

The original parable can be found in Luke 10:25 – 37. Here is how this parable was set up.  A religious expert asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Christ (knowing that he was an expert) basically said “well…what do you think needs to be done?”  The man responded with Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18;  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself”.  That answer was correct.  The expert then asked “and who is my neighbor?”…  You see this “expert” had spent a life time in creating boundaries around who his neighbor was.  While he was trying to trap Christ …Christ had set him up. 

This parable has multiple layers, because not only does it demonstrate that our “neighbor” is anyone, thus breaking the conventional thought of what a “neighbor” is, but it also exposes a hateful heart towards others.  Look at the circa 2010 parable above.  Were you offended that it was a God hating atheist who finally stopped to help the family?  Are you thinking that “surely I, or a member of my church would have stopped”?  The fact that there is discontent and issue with an atheist stopping to help others demonstrates the true nature of our hearts.  Then the question becomes do you truly love your neighbor as yourself?  Even when the neighbor is an atheist?  This, ultimately, was the point of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. 

The circa 2010 parable was based on a similar story found in “How to Read the Bible for all Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.

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2 responses to “Love your neighbor…except for that guy!

  1. michael April 22, 2010 at 6:52 am

    I think your depiction of the average or even more than average atheist is at best extrmely charitable. Do the research and you’ll find that most, I mean a vast majority, of social work and outreach is NOT done by atheists, atheist social groups if there even are any or atheist activists. In fact, thoughout history, Christians and those motivated by the judeo-christian ethic/world view have founded and continue to found the vast majority of the universities, hospitals and social outreach orgs out there.
    If you want to revamp the parablea, please do it with some intelectual and philosophical honesty.
    Thx

    • kcbob April 22, 2010 at 9:21 am

      Michael thanks for stopping by.

      The point of the parable (even in biblical context) was not to see who historically had contributed more to society. Personally, I would have a hard time arguing against the points you make (even though I know a number of athiests who do a lot of charitable work). However, your comment illustrates the original point that Jesus was trying to make to the religious expert.
      From a biblical context…The religious expert was a Pharisee. They were well known for giving to their neighbors through almsgiving. They were also well known for placing boundaries around their almsgiving and classifying who their neighbor was. Jesus, knew this, and anticipated the response.

      Jesus needed to demonstrate that it was no longer acceptable to just help the guy on the side of the road. That your neighbor was everyone. He accomplished this goal by exposing the hate in the heart of the Pharisee for the Samaritan. This likeness is bore out in this story when comparing a Christian to an Atheist.

      It is good that Christian groups do a lot of work around the world to help the needy, but it means nothing if there is hate in our hearts for others (atheist’s included). They are our neighbor’s as well – and they need Jesus… We need to love them enough to point them to Him in all we say and do.

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