Many of us may be familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. The part about stopping to help someone in need has indeed become the example for the Social Justice Movement. This parable illustrates loving our neighbor and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
The only problem is that we are only getting half the point of the parable.
You see, helping someone by meeting their immediate need is only part of the solution. Taking care of them for the long term is, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”
There’s something to this that the Church today is missing. In wanting to be so involved in the Social Justice Movement, we have felt the need to just be accepting of everyone and everything to the point of not wanting to offend anyone. The church, in trying to be the light of the world, has instead become too much like the world by mirroring the current morality and politics in the world around it to the point where it gets harder to tell much difference between the two.
In the parable, the Good Samaritan took up the person in need who symbolized the poor, the marginal, the socially outcast, the sinners and more. Then, after the Samaritan picked them up and took care of their immediate needs, he then took them to a nearby inn to be taken care of in the meantime until he could return to make sure that complete healing and restoration would take place.
In the church’s readiness to accept everyone right where they are, just as they are, we have forgotten about true healing and transformation. There is a change that is meant to occur for the better. What good is it to rescue someone and then not fully help them?
The church right now is quick to rally around everyone by being welcoming, but then we stop there by becoming affirming and saying, “it’s okay, just stay exactly as you are. There’s no need for you to change.” By affirming them in their current state and not directing them to the transforming power of Jesus Christ, we have done them a grave injustice.
We left them on the side of the road and never took them to the inn (the church) to be nursed back to health (spiritually). If everyone is “just fine and dandy” the way they are, then why do we need the church at all? There are plenty of secular institutions that can provide like-minded fellowship and social services that don’t require personal transformation.
The writer is the pastor at Jackson Center United Methodist Church.