When I was younger I was in a church play. My name was Maxine and I drove the limo for the Good Samaritan. As I drove the cardboard limo around looking like Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber, the Samaritan yells out “Maxine, stop the limo! We have to help this man!!!” I grunt along (I didn’t have any speaking lines but my grunting responses were on point), I picked up the man with my strong child muscles and “threw” him in the back of my “limo” and drove him to the Inn. End scene and my acting career.
I think back on this play, not only as an embarrassing performance but also in reference to the story of what it means to be a good neighbor. Recently I was thinking about the play/the actual story of the Good Samaritan and realized we don’t know what happens next? Does the Samaritan wait by the guy’s bed to collect what he is owed? “ hey good morning guy, soooo you owe me 2 silver coins and a little extra for my time…” Does the man wake up and just keep getting jumped by robbers, eventually just not able to hang on the tough road to Jericho? I just don’t know! To fill in the blanks, I have come up with what I think happened:
(The following is what was said during an episode of “Where Are They Now”, words coming from the man who was rescued by the Good Samaritan)
“I woke up and I had bandages all over, my body was aching and all my stuff I had was taken. I had no idea what was happening so I was screaming for help. An innkeeper came in and calmed me down, told me some Good Samaritan had taken me in and given me money so I could be well. I was shocked, who does that?! Seriously, who does that? I had to know. So once I was healed I wanted to find the person who helped me. After looking & looking I couldn’t find the person matching the description. But the more I looked the more I saw people being good to each other. I saw Jesus and he was telling my story. Jesus, telling my story! Gosh, I want to be the other guy in the story. How great is that guy? People passed me by, two to be exact but then that good helpful person saw me and changed it all. I get to be on the receiving end of love and now I know how to fill up the hearts of my brothers and sister. So that’s what I’m doing.”
I like to imagine that this story was left unfinished for us to fill in. I imagine Jesus saying, “Amber, how do you think this parable ended?” Me, “I think we are supposed to give everything we have without expectation, teacher.” Jesus replies, “Go and do likewise”.
Our culture makes us selfish, we rarely do things without the expectation of receiving something in return. The parable was lost to me as a child but now I have come to understand that loving your neighbor is so much more than a series of doing kind things for each other, passing the favor torch back and forth and owing each other things forever and ever.
“Look after him and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” Not only did this Samaritan give of his time & resources, he gave without expectation. Jesus uses this story not so we could recreate this one scenario but to take it apart and see all its attributes. Be different. Be kind. Give your time. Give your resources. And follow up. Do it free of expectation and do it often. Just do it, Jesus will always fill you up with more.