Jesus tells a powerful parable in Luke 10:30-36. It seems that the more we preach it, the less we hear it. We certainly don’t want to apply it to ourselves, even though clergy and church leaders are its target.
1) The theme of the parable is missional relationships. Jesus is asked, “Who is my neighbor?” It can be reframed, “How should church leaders relate to the world?” If we narrowly interpret the missional neighborhood to be the members of our congregation, everybody but God will be happy. We will inherit honor and position, but not eternal life.
2) How much time should we spend trying to fix our church? In Jesus’ parable, the ordained people fail to do what needs to be done because they are overbooked. They are committed to rituals, church meetings, and silly concerns about purity. For them the institution takes precedence over individual need. Jesus turns his focus away from the institution and its leaders, and invites us to consider one ordinary, but authentic, person. This Good Samaritan becomes our model for Christ-like behavior.
3) Can we be both a good pastor and a good person? The Samaritan acts out of his ‘human-ness’ to do what is right. The clergy people in the story have lost their humanity. What about us? Do we value our parishioners more than our family? Are we more comfortable in the church than we are outside of the church?
4) Who is more Post Modern, the levite and the priest, or the Good Samaritan? To be a ‘neighbor’ is to be an authentic human being. Post Modern people value authenticity above all else. Your church is not loosing members because today’s generation is irreligious. It is being abandoned because your neighbors demand authentic behavior.
5) What if my church won’t give me a Good Samaritan fund (pastor’s discretionary account)? What the Good Samaritan does, he does out of his own pocket. Looking back on my 30 year ministry, I realized that the most significant moments happened when I acted on my own and served out of my own gut-level compassion. Above all things, we must love. We lead by example. We must strive to be authentic Christians first, and church leaders second.