I recently heard on the news, that according to a poll, more than eight million American drivers, during the past year, admitted to engaging in some kind of aggressive driving. In order to qualify as “aggressive,” that person had to have yelled at the other person, got out of their car and confronted the other person, or intentionally struck the other person’s vehicle with their vehicle. Amazing and frightening, right? I once had an experience where a man in a pickup truck chased me for about ten miles past several exits, yelling at me and trying to get me to pull over. I still don’t know what I could have done to him but whatever it was, he was pretty mad about it! So just how are we supposed to get along in this world of aggressive drivers and angry people? Today, let’s listen to a familiar passage and hear what Jesus had to say:
…a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-29)
What follows this passage is Jesus telling the parable of The Good Samaritan. You remember the story, right? A man was walking from Jerusalem to Jericho and was attacked by robbers and left by the side of the road. A priest came by and crossed the road rather than help. The same was true of a Levite. Finally, a Samaritan man came along and rescued the victim. I love this because Jesus—always a provocative story-teller—was intentionally jarring His listeners. Remember, in most of their stories the Samaritans were the villains, not the heroes. The Samaritans were hated and now Jesus was telling them a story where their own religious leaders were the bad guys and a Samaritan was the good guy! At the end of the story, Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” and the lawyer answered, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” Do you remember the lawyer’s question that prompted Jesus answer? The question was, “Who is my neighbor?” But Jesus didn’t answer that question; instead, He told the man how he could be a good neighbor. Jesus is asking you and me the same question today. How are we to be good neighbors? By showing mercy, even when—or maybe especially when—it costs us something. When was the last time you were a good neighbor to someone? Maybe today can be your day. Maybe today will be my day. Ask God to help you to be more aware of the needs of people around you today. Our aggressive and angry world needs more good neighbors!