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The Good Samaritan, Updated – Pardon my Irreverence

So a lawyer said to Jesus, “What do I have to do to get to heaven?”

And Jesus said, “What is your understanding of the commandments of God?”

And the lawyer quoted from Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Old Testament, and Leviticus, the third book, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

So Jesus said, “Well, there you have it.”

But the lawyer responded, “Define the term neighbor for me.”

So Jesus, forbearing to roll His eyes, told this story:

“A certain black man went down from his work to his home, and fell among police who beat and tazed and shot him. Now a bishop witnessed this, but passed on, for he was on his way to a national conference, and was certain that someone not so crucially engaged would stop and help. And likewise a pastor passed him by for he was late to a meeting on “Evangelization in the 21st Century.” And a deacon also did not stop to help for he was on his way to the bank to deposit the fruits of the Sunday collection. But some “Christmas and Easter Christians,” and even some atheists, also witnessed the assault and went to the aid of the black man.

So of these, who were neighbors to the black man?”

And the lawyer answered Him, “I get your point, though your response perhaps over generalizes. I must ask you to excuse me, for I am late for a deposition.”

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As far as I know, all Christians hold that the Bible mandates the behaviors that Christians ought to engage in, or avoid. And even more so, the Gospels lay out explicitly the criteria for salvation. If you clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, house the homeless, welcome strangers, feed the hungry, you are welcome into heaven. If you don’t, “Go away into everlasting punishment.” The implications here are clear. Assisting those in need, whether or not they are your social peers, is a prerequisite for a happy eternity.

The followers of Jesus got this. His favorite follower, John, has this to say. “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his neighbor in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17) Paul, the first major missionary to the non-Jewish population, denied Christians the option of separating themselves along lines of gender and ethnicity, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.”

So where do the Christian churches stand on the issues, like the injustice of the justice system, that are the fall-out of white supremacy? I know where my church stands - silently hiding, like a mouse in its hole. I have spoken to my pastor, to his superior, and attempted to contact the national leadership of my denomination. All decline to engage in any discussion, even a discussion about why they won’t enter a discussion!

There is one major inter-faith group that has tried to open the church doors to the reality of the oppression of people of color in our nation. That organization is Sojourners. Take a look at their web site, https://sojo.net. It is a source of education, enlightenment and encouragement for me. I hope it might be same for you.