I looked the other way.
Maybe I didn’t throw the punches, but am I any better than the religious leaders in Jesus’ parable who crossed to the other side of the road and passed by an injured traveler?
There are injured people everywhere we turn: those in the aftermath of a disaster, people who are abused, trafficked, unjustly incarcerated, immigrants, veterans, the aging, the hungry, children with exceptionalities, those living in poverty or disease, those caught in war or persecuted for their faith. They are hurting. Do I see them? If my family member is not one of the injured ones, do I even care?
It’s overwhelming. There is too much suffering for me to stop and help everyone, so I just keep walking. I turn away so I don’t have to look into their eyes.
As the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church unfolded, hearts were wounded and people were broken. Although I believe that new allies for LGBTQ+ people are emerging and justice for all will eventually come, I am sorry that I have been silent until now. The UMC Book of Discipline has contained a statement for 47 years that is hurtful to others, yet I have looked the other way and continued walking past those who were in pain.
But sitting back and feeling guilty won’t help anyone. I can do something. And so can you. We all don’t need to do the same work. We are the body of Christ in the world, and if we each show mercy to one neighbor, together we can make a difference.
We can all do one small thing. And then another.
Luke 10:25-37Common English Bible (CEB)
Loving your neighbor
25 A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?”
27 He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”[a]
28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”
29 But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. 31 Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 32 Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 33 A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 34 The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ 36 What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?”
37 Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(a) Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18
Who are the people who are hurting? Do we demonstrate mercy toward them? What one small thing can you do today to be a neighbor?