“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More on the Good Samaritan (a year later)

To begin with, read the story of the "Good Samaritan" if you haven't ever read it before, and then continue on with this blog post. You can find it in Luke 10:30-35.

I want to think of the connections between this parable of Jesus that was provided to illustrate who a neighbor is, and how this relates to interactions with people with disabilities. Here are a few observations about what it means to be a neighbor to a person affected by disabilities.

1. Why did the man get beat up/Why does someone have a disability?
...We can ask why things happen to people but ultimately we do not know. Additionally in this story, the reason why the man was beaten is totally irrelevant: the point of the story was the response of the Samaritan who understood who his neighbor was.
2. The beaten man had everything stolen, he is in poverty with no resources of his own
...Those with disabilities may have limited or no resources of their own to assist themselves.
3. The beaten man was abused and left "half dead"/he was actually disabled temporarily or long term depending upon the severity of the beating.
...Did you ever think that the man who was beaten was actually a disabled man as a result of the beating. So, Jesus uses the example of helping a disabled man as a way of illustrating the point of being a neighbor.
4. The beaten man may have been unaware of his situation as a result of his beating, perhaps passed out (he was "half dead").
...People with disabilities (particularly intellectual disabilities) may be totally unaware of their situation and what is happening to them. It is not unlike the Leviticus 19:14 warning about cursing the deaf or putting a stumbling block in front of the blind. Although he might not recognize his situation, I do and must do what I can to help independent of what he understands.
5. Priest and Levite "saw" the man and deliberately avoided him...they saw that he was beaten (disabled) and passed by on the other side...he was not a priority for them
...I have too often been told by Christian leaders that ministry to persons with disabilities is not a priority. These leaders are exactly the same as the priest and levite who walked by on the other side. It is what I call "Know excuse"...I didn't know. Well if you didn't know, why do you have handicapped parking spaces and restrooms with the big stalls? Who do you think they are for?
6. The Samaritan, stops, takes pity on him, goes to him, and assesses his wounds to determine a course of action
...Elsewhere in this blog, I have spoken about Wolfensberger's 18 wounds. I can tell you that those wounds are a good representation of the experience of many people with disabilities. If I take the time to assess a person's situation, I can see how they are wounded and come up with some kind of solution to address the wounds. It starts by stopping, going to the person and finding out how they are wounded.
7. The Samaritan stopped to help someone that the culture clearly considered as something different from itself (Samaritan sees a Jew, non disabled sees person affected by disability)
...No doubt, Jews and Samaritans were conditioned by their cultures to see each other as different, as enemies, as other. However, the Samaritan rejects his cultural conditioning and simply acts like a neighbor to the hurting man. He sees him as a man, not a different race.
8. The Samaritan ignored the potential "danger"
...People are afraid of relationships with needy people because of the demands they might make on them. If we are to be neighbors we must ignore this "danger".
9. After assessing wounds, bandages them "pouring on oil and wine", he did what he could.
...Probably there is more that could have been done to improve the care provided, more to be learned, but he started with what he knew...then he took him to the inn to pay for further care. He did not excuse himself saying, "I don't have any training" but did what he could and then took him to people who could help him do more.
10. Ministry cost him something and the cost was ongoing to some degree but he still made the decision to get involved.
...I was once told by a pastor that ministry to people with disabilities was a "black hole for service" the implication being that I should not get involved with people who's needs will constitute and ongoing cost to me. I suspect I should just serve people who I can serve quickly and then leave alone...but is that the Christian model Jesus provides here? No the support needed was demanding and ongoing.
11. The Samaritan put him on his own donkey (gave him a ride to the place where he could be ministered to) and "took care of him" for a whole day
...The Samaritan gave him a ride to church, so to speak. When was the last time you gave someone a ride to church who was not able to get there on his own? Have you ever made two trips to church so that you could pick up others who needed to get to church?
12. Ultimately the Samaritan developed a relationship with the man via providing for his care, and looking in on him when he returned reimbursing for further expenses.
...The Samaritan didn't drop the man off at the inn and make a hasty retreat. No he took the man there, paid for what was needed and said he would come back and pay for whatever else was needed. He established a relationship with the beaten man and the caretaker of the inn in order to get the best services for the person he perceived as his neighbor.


Blaine Clyde said...

I am always so shocked when I speak to pastors and ministers who do not think time, energy, and money should be spent on the disabled. Scripture is so blunt about caring for and reaching out to all people. The Good Samaritan is another picture of God's love for those that are ignored by society (and ignored by the Church). It is such a great reminder that we need to slow down and be willing to get involved in other people's lives. Life is messy and we need to be willing to step out of our comfort zone and truly get involved in people's lives. How deep does our love go for other people if we are only willing to be involved in their lives when it is easy and convenient? I am challenged to do more -

Anonymous said...

I'm glad there is a part two, the Good Samaritan was one of my favorite posts so great theres more!

I think people worry so much about being stuck with people that they are unwilling to offer help in case this means they are asked to give more than they are able.

Sometimes you got to get out your comfort zone and do something, all very well saying you will pray for someone but if you hav'nt been well enough to make a meal for a week you need the physical before the spirtual, though there is room for both. But you can't have the spirtual fullfilled without meeting physical needs.

Sarah said...

When talking to a Pastor in regards to disability ministry, the harvest is ripe and there are too few workers. Are there? What are we doing to change that? And are the workers aware?

Another point you touched on is the Samaritan did what he knew with no special training. How often do I hear "I am not trained." Do what you know. Treat them as a neighbor.

In a self serving world, people are afraid to get caught in a relationship that is needy. We are warned against it. Take care of yourself, is what we here over and over. When I am engaged with others, I feel whole.

I am challenged to constantly pray that I seek to emanate the love of Jesus.

Unknown said...

Wow, I’ll never look at this parable in the same way. You’ve not changed the story but added realistic possibilities that further the Christian’s need to facilitate application for helping those who are hurting, weak or broken, in addition to having limitless ideas of what it means to “love your neighbor.” By including our disabled neighbor it is important to remember that they are no longer confined to the beliefs that lead to their isolation, being ignored or theoretically beaten and left to die. But instead they are vital participants of our communities. The actions of today’s church should not imitate the actions of the religious leaders who turned the other way as they passed their wounded neighbor, but should reflect the Good Samaritan (who represents Christ’s Heart) who not only cared for the man’s immediate needs but secured his future by paying for his possible long term care. Ironically today’s church neglects their responsibility of such care because they are satisfied with the services that the local, state and government provide for their neighbor, which misses the point of Christ’s intent….

Heather W. said...

People often tell me that they couldn't do disability ministry. They somehow set up those who invest in the lives of people with disabilies as being some sort super Christian just because they involved in ministry to people with disabilities. This parable reminds me that God doesn't call certain people to love, instead He wants all of us to be loving neighbors to each other. It's not a special gift, it's not about special training,loving our neighbor is simply a part of loving a very special God.

Anonymous said...

It's sad to see that the church thinks that people with disabilities are not important. All I have to say is that when it comes to judgment day they will have a lot of explaining to do.

Annette said...

Today it seems as though many 'big box' or 'mega churches' are more interested in growing their congregation, building bigger facilities, and increasing their bank accounts, than reaching out to devalued members of their communities. I attend a church with a small congregation; being good neighbors is a big part of our ministry. Through community outreach and service we minister to and provide care for the homeless and hungry. While serving, relationships are built and more needs are discovered. The people we serve suffer from many of Wolfensberger's 18 wounds such as relegation to low social status, involuntary material poverty, being rejected, symbolic stigmatizing, distanced from the community, abandonment, de-individualized, and becoming the object of brutalization. Reaching out to help and care for our neighbors who are hurt by society is what The Good Samaritan is about. It is what each of us should strive to be about also.

Kent said...

The early Church always saw this parable in terms of Salvation, Christ and the Church. The man jumped, beaten, robbed and left to die is me. A Samaritan was someone who had left God’s plan of salvation and worshipped in a foreign manner. Sin has left me in a horrible predicament; however, Christ has come to the rescue. Neither the old covenant (priest) nor your position in society (Levite) can help you in your situation. Yet Christ comes and heals our wounds even without our asking, just out of his complete compassion for mankind. The Inn represents the Church. Christ established the Church as a hospital. He gives the Church all it needs to rehabilitate us. In addition to that, He promises to give even more if it is needed.
I like how you put this in terms of a disability, and it works well with this interpretation too. What disability is worse than the one of the soul? God is more concerned with the situation of our heart and soul than our physical being. If it takes us beaten half to death toget us to acknowledge Him, they he has saved us.
We should follow Christ’s example and not wait to be asked for help. When we see someone in need, regardless of their situation, we are to bring them to the Church and let the healing begin.

Joel Connell said...

I have to agree with what you and Blaine said. It just really fires me up on how some people can be so callous towards those who are disabled. I should know because I have autism and it has been a rough road for me to take. Even ministers have the call not to take the time or energy to help those who are disabled. They completely forget that Scripture is very specific about reaching out to everyone, including the disabled. One of Jesus' Parables was the Good Samaritan. It tells about God's love for those who are cast out of society and even by the Church to fend for themselves. It helps show people that we need to take risks and get involved in peoples lives. I think that the main reason people are so apathitic about people who are different from them is because they are afraid of them. They feel that their pressence is a threat to their way of life. It could be because that many people fear change itself. That should not be a reason to ignore people with disabilities. If the Church excludes certain people for something that they cannot help having, then it is not a true church at all. The Gospel said that all people of the world should be given access to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Anonymous said...

this has always been on of my favorite parables in the Bible, but the way it is presented in this blog, opens my eyes and my heart to a whole new of looking seeing it, i had always thought it is important to treat others the way you want to be treated, no matter how different they may be from yourself, but i had never applied it to the disabled person who is may be ignored or reject by people everyday, and who's wounds are long term, and can be amplified by those around them. the way Good Samaritan parable was presented in this blog was applies to everyday life and situations.