This blog is part 3 of a 3 part series. You can read the first 2 parts of the series at the following links: Part 1 / Part 2
One key to loving our neighbor is understanding our neighbor’s immediate needs and responding accordingly. We conclude the study of the Good Samaritan parable by looking at the perspective through which neighborly love was shown.
God’s concern is for all areas of life.
When sin entered the world it created brokenness on many levels (Spiritual, physical, social, mental). Therefore the work of Christ on the cross was meant to bring wholistic reconciliation. Reconciliation to all things not just our relationship to Him (Col. 1:19-20).
Wholism sees people as integrated beings. Or as John Stott states: “body-soul-community beings.” God didn’t make us just physical beings or just spiritual beings. He made us complete, complex humans meant to live in community together. Thus not only do we personally need to grow in all areas, but our ministry should also seek to help others grow in wholism as well.
The story of the Good Samaritan begs the question, “What does it mean to love my neighbor?” Jesus’ answer depicts a man meeting material, physical and economic needs. We see in the parable of the Good Samaritan, as well as the life modeled by Christ, a focus on the whole person, the total welfare of our neighbor. Jesus’ ministry included physical healing (Luke 7:21), spiritual forgiveness (Mark 2:1-12), and social empowerment (Luke 13:11-13). Jesus sought to restore the fullness of life in every way.
What does this mean for my ministry?
As followers of Jesus our love of neighbor should reflect a caring for the whole person— practical programming that integrates evangelism, relief and development work. As Tim Keller states in the book Generous Justice:
“Christians who live or work in needy communities in order to do evangelism must inevitably become involved in helping their friends and neighbors with their pressing economic and social needs. To fail to do so is simply a lack of love. It is also impractical. If you wish to share your faith with needy people, and you do nothing about the painful conditions in which they live, you will fail to show them Christ’s beauty. We must neither confuse evangelism with doing justice, nor separate them from each other.”
I came across this poem in John Stott’s book Involvement: Being a Responsible Christian in a Non-Christian Society. This heart wrenching account of a priest’s approach to helping a homeless woman describes the trap of inaction that we are all sometimes prone to falling into.
I was hungry, and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger.
I was imprisoned, and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked, and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick, and you knelt and thanked God for your health
I was homeless, and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely, and you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy and so close to God
But I am still very hungry – and lonely – and cold.
I challenge you to commit to praying for a vision of people through God’s eyes. Then ask God to give you compassionate love for the people He shows you and to reveal to you what actions you could take to meet their spiritual, physical, social and mental needs. Then obey!
We must be people willing to accompany our prayers with action. Through the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus powerfully illustrated His command to love the suffering across barriers. Where is God calling you to demonstrate His wholistic love?