The Parable of the Good [Insert Your Samaritan Here].

The Parable of the Good Mormon:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Mormon, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

 I chose to substitue the Samaritain for the Mormon in this adapted version of the famous parable as one of the churches I am involved in is helping set up a food bank with other Churches in the area, including a Mormon church which seems to have caused some controversy. However, there are actually many different words that we could have placed there “The Parable of the Good”… Homosexual, Muslim, Pentecostal, Catholic, Anglican,  Atheist… the list could go on and on.
The Samaritains believed that they were the true followers of the Israelite religion (seeing Judaism as an altered version of this). Neither the Samaritains nor the Jews would enter the other’s territory and they would not speak to one another. The Jews viewed the Samaritains as unclean (and vice versa) and believed that the Samaritains followed the wrong religion (although both Abrahamic and descendants from the Israelites ), they followed a different law and had different religious texts (do you see where I’m going yet…?). I’m pretty sure that if you asked a first century Jew about the Samaritains they would have said that they didn’t have a relationship with God as they followed him the wrong way and could list the ways in which they were theologically wrong, probably using scripture to back up their points (sound familiar?). But here Jesus says that the Samaritains are to be considered as a neighbour and you are to love them as yourself. Jesus tells us to love the people we hate and we think have it all wrong as ourselves. Just let that resonate and think about who your Samaritain might be. Perhaps mine would be fundamentalists, but we probably each have more then one group.
Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Whoever is not against us is for us? Can a man who offers food to the poor in Jesus’ name (even if their understanding is different to ours) loose their reward? Whoever is not against us if for us.

I don’t even find it frustrating* anymore that people don’t want to be involved in something amazing, building the kingdom, feeding the poor (which seems to be pretty central to the Gospel) because a certain group are involved, I just find it really, really sad; I’ve been walking round with a heavy heart as I’ve thought about this today. *(Ok, maybe I do… just a bit)

The stupid thing is that I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelid if non-believers were invited to help out at the food bank. I don’t think it would have been as controversial to have Muslims involved in the food bank, but involve Mormons and you’ve got issues.

Let us remember to love our neighbour (including those who we are told we should be separated from, like the Jews and the Samaritains) as ourselves. And let’s not say to the hungry or the poor “sorry I can’t be involved in helping you because a Samaritain (whoever that looks like for us) is.


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