This morning we took time to look at the parable of the Good Samaritan.
To be completely honest, it’s one of those passages that I can be tempted to easily ‘skim-read’ in my morning devotions because I’ve heard-read-drawn-pictures-sung-songs-performed-dramas about it since my childhood Sunday school days.
I know it so well.
And you can sometimes know things so well that you then realise you don’t know them at all.
So we opened our Bible’s to that well known passage in Luke 10, and one of my classmates asked the simple question, ‘Which man in the story are you?’
Which man in the story are you?
We closed our eyes in a moment of silent reflection, thought through the oh-so-famous characters and began to apply the questions, the motivations, the calling… We all want to be the Samaritan of course. But we also all know that we’re guilty of acting like the Levite or the Priest. Of passing by. Of ignoring the pain of the world. Of not loving our neighbour.
And then someone broke the slightly-uncomfortable-silence to share this story:
A missionary in the Philippines was teaching the parable of the Good Samaritan to a community who had never heard it before. He asked them this same question; ‘Which man in the story are you?’
He expected them to answer with a choice from the famous three characters, to apply it in the way that we all so easily do, when one man replied, ‘I’m the fourth man’.
The missionary paused and scratched his head. ‘The fourth man?’
‘Yes. I am the fourth man,’ the community member confidently replied. ‘I am the one who was beaten up.’
I am the one who was beaten up.
And I stopped. And I thought. And I realised that I’ve never-ever identified with the story like that before.
Because I naturally come at it from being ‘the rescuer’. From having at least the potential of being like the good Samaritan. From having the capacity to be used by God to save the day. And that’s ok. Sometimes.
But in doing this, and only this, I’ve missed something valuable. Because for much of these last few years, I’ve been more like the fourth man. The man bleeding. The man with the bruises. The man that needed carrying. Who needed rescuing. The one who needed to receive the abundant pouring in of the oil and the wine of Abba’s overflowing healing.
And it hit me that in all our perceived strength, we can sometimes forget to be weak with each other. Honestly, and completely, and vulnerably weak. To be real in real community. And we lose something. Because I so want to have hands that God can use to rescue, and to heal, but I also want to know the Rescuer. I want to be rooted in His beautiful, messy-but-being-perfected community. I want to have a testimony that proclaims the name of the God who brings us through the trial and storm and the testing, and who proves our faith to be built of gold. I want to really and compassionately identify with others because I’ve been there too.
And I want to be real.
I can sometimes get so caught up in trying to do the things that God wants me to do, that I become guilty of forgetting to be the person that God wants me to be. But as that famous quote says, ‘I am becoming less concerned with what I am doing, and more concerned with who I am becoming, which is a lover of Jesus.’ A weak, vulnerable, only-strong-in-His-strength, leaning-on-His-everlasting-arms, being confident in His healing and sent out in His power, lover of Jesus.
So, being the fourth man is more than ok.
Because just as this has been a long, dark season, there is the promise of Spring. And I will love Him in the trial, and love Him in the testing, and love Him in the healing, and love Him in the blessing, until only love remains.