It was a bright, sunny day still a little chilly in the morning light. Along this street was a massive church. It took up the entire city block. The church was known for its community work – feeding the homeless, classes for folks trying to get jobs, trash pick-up days, etc. Today was a special event – Neighbor Outreach Day. Folks in the church were proud of their efforts and excited about the day’s events.
This spectacular morning, something was amiss at the front of the church. Overnight, someone had attacked a man, stripped him of all his belongings – the only thing he had on were his pants. No shirt, no shoes, no personal affects. He had dried blood in his hair. During the attack, he had urinated on himself – he smelled –really bad.
People started showing up for the big event. First to appear was a man of the cloth. He wanted to get there early so he could pray. And of course, he needed to be an example to the people about how to do ministry. He saw the man, noted that for a homeless guy he really should have more clothes and resolved to come back later. If he was still there, he’d contact the head of the homeless assistance group and see what could be pulled out of the church closets. In the meantime, there was much to be done. He went inside.
About 20 minutes later, some of the members (event organizers) arrived. They too saw the man. As they walked by they thought they heard a faint groan. Probably still drunk from last night they thought. He’s sleeping it off. If he’s still here later, we can see if someone inside can come help him.
More time passes and a man from the hood walks by. He sees the man lying lifeless on the pavement. He notices the blood – seen it many times before – back in the day before he started turning his life around. He’d just gotten a new job, this was the first week. That’s where he was headed. As he looked at the man, too many thoughts were crowding his head. This guy needs help but if I help it will take a while. I will be late for work and might lose my job. I really need this job. And what if the cops think I did it? I’ve had a few run ins with them before. But then, the thought crossed his mind “Stop, what would you want someone to do if that was you?”
Reluctantly, he took out his cell phone and dialed 911. When the police came, he rode in the ambulance to the hospital and stuck around until the man’s family arrived. He left his contact info with the nurses in case anyone needed anything further and left to see if he still had a job.
In the end, who participated more in Neighbor Outreach Day? The members who held the event or the man who showed kindness? Jesus said, “Be like the man who showed kindness.”
Modernization of Luke 10:30-37