“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)
A few years ago there was a film out called Love Actually. It got me thinking and love actually is about laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters, for other human beings who are in some way or another in need. In the parable of the ‘The Good Samaritan’ Jesus shows us that everyone, even those people that we may look down on or consider to be our enemy, is our neighbour and is worthy of our help in time of need. But what if Jesus’ story had a different ending? What if this was actually what he said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side…Then for a long time the man lay there helpless and no-one came. The sun beat down by day and the night was freezing cold, and it came to pass that the man died.”
For many people in our world help never comes. Too often the Samaritan never comes or, if he does, he too passes by on the other side and people are left in despair.
In 1973 Darley & Batson conducted their classic ‘Good Samaritan’ experiment. Sixty-seven students from the Princeton Theological Seminary were told they were going to give a talk in a nearby room. While making their way to give their talk, they encountered a person lying in a doorway, doubled over, eyes closed and coughing. Participants would have to pass the apparently highly distressed man, but would they stop to help? Each student was given one of the following three instructions:
1. “Oh, you’re late. They were expecting you a few minutes ago. We’d better get moving…”
2. “The assistant is ready for you, so please go right over.”
3. “…It’ll be a few minutes before they’re ready for you, but you might as well head on over…”
Of those given the first instruction, 10% stopped to help. In the second group, 45% stopped and in the third, 63%. It seems that the busier, more rushed and hurried we are, the less time we have to consider the needs of others, and so pass on by.
In another of Jesus’ sayings, he said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) Love actually is taking the time to stop and help those who are in need; it’s what Jesus did; it’s how we show we are his. In a busy world let the role of the Good Samaritan begin with me.
Father, help me to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of others. As I stop to be a help to those who are suffering, may they catch a glimpse of your love and the vision of new life and new hope in you.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
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