Tag: The Good Samaritan

The Widow, The Orphan, The Refugee, and You!

By Jonathan David Faulkner

In reflecting on Luke 10:29 A.P. Stanly says:

“Who is thy neighbor?” It is the sufferer, wherever, whoever, whatsoever he be. Wherever thou hearest the cry of distress, wherever thou seest anyone brought across thy path by the chances and changes of life (that is, by the Providence of God), whom it is in thy power to help—he, stranger or enemy though he be—he is thy neighbor.”

I wonder if the young Lawyer knew what he was about to unleash. Working to excuse himself from caring for the sick and the poor he asks: “Who is my Neighbor?” Jesus, of course, answers in the form of a Parable, that being the Parable of the Good Samaritan which I hope I do not have to remind you of. One could put this question forward today, what would be the answer? Having worked in the Inner-City I can tell you that the notion of caring for the poor and needy is often after-thought. Or, we give money or send a shoebox full of goodies and a Gospel Trac to a third World country, pat ourselves on the back and then go on our way. These are good things, but have we truly acknowledged our neighbors in those contexts? There was a time when I put my shoebox up on the Church Stage without a thought that my gift may be going to a village with no running water.   I have given money to an organization that digs wells in Africa and not thought about the fact that there is an actual need for clean water in Africa.

Again, these things are good things to do, and I am not saying we should not do that. But as Dr. Emmitt Price said in a discussion on Reconciliation: “Someone needs to dig a well in Flint Michigan as well.” I have attended events and gone on a missions Trip where I worked with marginalized people groups and patted myself on the back. I had played the “Good Christian” card in my own head to excuse me from so many different things. On the streets of Denver I was awakened to this part of my being.

“I really struggled with the stories I am hearing and the lives that are broken” I told my supervisor Pastor John. “God was destroying my heart and I had to deal with it one on one with Him.”

You know my story, the hurt, the pain, the bullying the depression, the abuse. You have seen my posts and followed this blog. I had let that consume me and I was not healing, then I discovered the pain of another and let God take my own pain and then I was able to feel, I was able to heal. Everyday I had the pain of others right before and my job was to love them precisely where they were at as a part of the Shelter’s staff. I could not escape it, and I felt it, I felt the pain of another.

It did not stop there though, if you think that my return to small town America excused me from seeing others pain you are wrong. I started to see all those hurting; pain became to me a magnet. Now that my own pain had passed and was healing, I wanted others to share in that healing. Instead of wanting people to feel my pain, I wanted them to share in my joy.

It is because of that experience that I have been able to say in light of the pain experienced by so many both before and now after the Election. “I want to be able to mourn together, weep together, so we can heal together and then rejoice together.” I want to be for the other, for the hurting and downtrodden so that I can lift him up and invite him to sit at the head of the table. I want to take him from his place of humiliation and elevate him to that place of honor. I want to do that by taking him just as he is and letting the Spirit do whatever work is necessary.

So how do we respond? Especially now when there is so much hate and vitriol on both sides of the table. In the shadow of a historic and historically terrifying election how do we respond to those who are hurting, how do we hurt? What does the Church do now?

When my dear brother and close friend asked a group of us this question tonight, this was my response.

You be the Samaritan: Do you realize that the story of the Good Samaritan would have been considered Anathema to the Religious Leaders. So offensive it would have assuredly got their attention and may have contributed to their anger towards him greatly. Why? Because the Samaritan’s were considered Half-Breeds, a reminder of Israel’s past. Worshiping on Jacobs mountain instead of in the Temple or Synagogue. If you were a Jew and you had to go to Galilee or a northern province you generally went around Samaria. A Samaritan was considered unclean and worthy of contempt. That’s why Jesus conversation with a Samaritan woman in John 4 is so scandalous, the fact that Jesus was even in Samaria in the first place was abnormal for a Jew, especially for a Jewish Rabbi. Today we would see the equivalent in the way middle leaning Christians treat ultra-left or ultra-right wing Christians.

So for the Samaritan to even touch this Jewish man who had been beaten and robbed was probably something that would put him in danger, perhaps even danger of death. Some Commentators believe this is why he drops the man off at the inn and tells the innkeeper to care for the man and when he was well he would return and pay for the cost of caring for him. Josh Riebock points out that this man would have had to “Get down and get his robs all covered in blood and sweat and dirt to pick this man up. He would have had to get down in the mess of this man.” Just to put him on his donkey and carry him to an inn would have required the man to need a change of clothes. If this was a true story, which some Commentators believe it was because of Jesus use of Specific land markers and general specificity not present in other parables. Then the Samaritan is a hero even though he will never be recognized for what he did.

So what does the Church need to do now? Be the Samaritan. It is time to lay aside our personal comfort and peace to help the hurting. To face pain of death for the hurting and the broken, If Atrocities are committed we must stand up with those whom they are being committed against and love so radically that we are willing to give up our lives to protect theirs. We need to be people who are willing to get down in the mud and blood and sweat of the hurting person and lift them out, put them on our own donkey’s, take them to an inn and make sure they are looked after and cared for. Regardless of the cost to us, we need to be willing to and actually be active in seeking to protect those who are afraid, hurting or whatever state they are in. God himself does this in the Incarnation, stepping down into the mess of the world and though we cannot be perfect as He is without the Indwelling of the Spirit (and even then not totally so until after the resurrection) we can imitate him here on Earth.

When I set the tagline on God’s Heart a year ago I thought my hope was to turn your attention to those who were hurting. The Widow, the Orphan, the Refugee and you was not merely a tagline to get you to read my posts, but (I hoped) to get you to think about those things that we have so often ignored. I truly believe that the way we respond to the hurting and broken and in the face of whatever may come will define the Church in America in the eyes of History. It is time for us to stand up and speak for the voiceless, we cannot allow this opportunity to pass like we have so many times before.

Because there are a lot of scared people out there, Blacks, Whites, LGBTQ+, Disabled, Immigrants both legal and illegal, the widow, the orphan, the refugee and you. With that, there is hope that can come alongside them. There is the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the light that “Shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood it” (John 1). We have that hope and that light, we can be peacemakers, we can be, through the Spirit of God within us, a voice that speaks life and hope and encouragement

But that might require us to give up our lives, face persecution, get messy.

I am ready! Are you?

 

 Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

“THE ONE WHO SHOWS MERCY”

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By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

One day, someone asked the pastor of the local Church; “Who is my neighbor?” The pastor sat back in his chair and thought for a second. Then told the following story. A man was walking along the road in New York City when he was jumped, mugged and left to die on the street. Before long a high ranking politician walked by and saw the man. “I cannot stop and help him, I am an important politician, I have too many meetings to attend, and a country to run.” So he goes on his way. A few minutes later a certain Fundamentalist walks by, seeing the man he scoffs and says “God must have just repaid him for his sins, I should not help him, lest I interfere with God’s judgment.” Finally, a Syrian Refugee walks by, seeing the man he helps him to his feet and takes him to the Hospital. He stays with him throughout his recovery and even gives whatever he can to help pay for and restore the man. He never asked for anything in return, he merely prayed for him and watched out for him. Who do you think was more of a neighbor to the man? “The one who showed him mercy” the church member replied. “Good, now shouldn’t you do the same?”

For those of you who have studied you will recognize this as the Parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37 though it has been contextualized for our modern world. A Politician, a Super-Religious Leader and a Syrian Refugee. In the original context the story would have been quite offensive, a Samaritan helping a Jew, what scandal since the Samaritans were considered half-breeds and even sub-human because they reminded Israel of their adulterous history. In today’s context the story serves to remind us that our neighbor is anyone who we might encounter. It also serves as an example to us to get down in the mess of the life of another and lift them up out of it so that they might glorify God. Most importantly, however, is the reminder to show mercy, always show mercy.

Step into today’s current crisis, millions of refugees, the UN Refugee Center had the number at 13 million with another 5.1 million in camps waiting for relocation as of mid-2014 (The number has most certainly gone up). This is undoubtedly a humanitarian crisis, as war continues to spread and those persecuted, whether it is for being Christian or some other religion, continue to be displaced from home and culture to escape the rise of ISIL and the growing threat of all-out war in those unstable countries. The numbers go up, the destruction gets worse, the situation goes from important to imperative meaning no one should ignore it, everyone should be willing to do their part.

Yet the response of the Conservative Evangelicals, a camp which contains GHFT, has been one of fear and crying out against such a thing. “We do not want refugees here” says one pastor, “They are going to just bring Jihad here.” Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas said in a statement “I have therefore directed all state agencies, departments, boards or commissions not to participate or assist in the relocation of Syrian refugees to Kansas.” He goes onto say that is it “Unfortunate” that this has to be the case but the “Safety of Kansas” is the priority.

Meanwhile, Conservative Evangelicals flood to Donald Trump Rallies, with men like Jerry Falwell Jr and many other Conservative Evangelical leaders coming out in support of him, including former GOP Vice President Candidate and former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin. Franklin Graham even endorsed Trump’s plan to “Kick Muslims out.”

At GHFT we are baffled by this and deeply saddened. Why? Because, in looking out over the vast scope of history we have seen the damage that the kind of rhetoric being used in America today is similar to that used by others who have committed mass atrocities such as Hitler and Stalin. The demonization of a people, namely refuges, a lot of which are Muslim, is exactly what Hitler did to drive his genocide and final solution. The Jewish Journal, a publication here on the North Shore, recently released an article expressing concern for the reintroduction of Mien Kampf into Germany, with its 300 pages of commentary, asking questions concerning the possibility of something similar happening again, only this time at the hands of Syria. Americans should be concerned of something similar happening if the Hate-Speech and continue Fear-Mongering encouraged by Trump and his supporters is allowed to continue, only the target would be people of Syrian origin, and I do not see it stopping at Muslims, but Christians and any refugee who comes from the Middle East.

We have done it once, the Japanese Internment camps that were scattered all over the U.S, blaming all Japanese for the attack on Pearl Harbor, most of whom had no ties to Japan or had cut ties with Japan. Christians then turned a blind eye to the morality of the situation, as they did with Slavery one-hundred years before (with the exception of the Quakers). Trading sound moral living and philosophy, along with the fair and merciful treatment of all for comfort and safety. We have traded true sanctity of human life, the sanctity of all life, for our own security. Are we so conceited that we think we have the ability to slander others for the sake of our own seared conscious? Have we become so fearful that we have forgotten what it means to be truly Evangelical? So afraid that we would openly hate both our brothers and sisters from Syria and those whom they are trying to reach out to? What is wrong with us?

GHFT does agree that we should care for those here in America, a country should take care of its citizen’s, but they should also take care of those who are displaced and do so in such a way that they are built up and encouraged. If there is any organization better equipped to do that it is the church, not the federal government, the Church. With all its members and with all of its parts and programs. If we are to be a righteous and a Just people, then we cannot ignore the refugees or demand that they be denied entrance because they might make us “Unsafe.” Is our safety and comfort so important to us that we would deny aid and even call for the extermination of an entire people group?

Hey, you might die, you might have to be uncomfortable, you might have to give money, you may have to get down in the life of someone you disagree with and help them out. It might be asked of you to do such a thing, but did Jesus not do the same for you? And if He did, then should you not seek to, out of gratitude, seek to serve and love all those who come into your sphere of influence regardless of what you may think of them? At GHFT we assert that it is our responsibility to build up all people with the hope of reaching them for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Regardless of race, creed or religion at the time we meet them. We reject fear-mongering and hate-speech in the interest of being part in the great work of the spreading of the Gospel done through us by God. We recognize that our neighbor is all men and all women within the scope of the human race and we have resolved to treat others with that vision in mind. We invite you to do the same, we hope you would do the same.

I close with this: Last year in my Christian Ethics class here in the Seminary I was afforded the chance to learn Dr. David Gill’s thoughts on Christian Ethics and the Ten Commandments. I was struck by his application of the commandments. For example, “Though shalt not covet” is not merely a command not to covet your neighbor’s possession but is “A command for us to protect and help care for our neighbor’s possessions.” That we are responsible to love GOD and one of the ways we do that is by loving people. As I have pondered this in relation to the current Refugee Crisis I am struck by the fact that it is our responsibility to commit ourselves to aiding those fleeing from this war. Whether that is through boots on the ground, in the field and camps work or through constant prayer and intercession. We have an ethical responsibility, and it is our Christian responsibility to commit in whatever way we can to aiding in, and working to resolve this humanitarian crisis and it starts by accepting, in love, those coming, in spite of fear and possibly at the expense of our comfort and safety.

This is the only Christian Response, anything else falls short and ceases to be so.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

God’s Heart for Those is responsible for the Content of this Article, sources not in print are linked in the article itself, The Jewish Journal is a Newspaper publication from the North Shore in Massachusetts. 

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Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

 

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