Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just Your Typical, Friendly Neighborhood Tram Ride

Okay, let me give you fair warning: This video is extremely explicit in its liberal use of foul language but I'm making no apologies for posting it since there's a bigger picture that I'm painting here. So, if you can't handle the language, and if you're inclined to get on your moral high horse and tell me how wrong I am for posting this video, please, slowly back away from The Journeyman and find a blog that has more Sunday School content to your liking. I'm satisfied with my own horse and don't need the use of yours!

This video, posted only yesterday on youtube, is the very definition of viral. It's had almost two and a half million hits as at the time of my embedding it. I love that! No, not the content of the video silly, I love the fact that it's so culturally relevant that as many as two and a half million people have already watched it and reposted it in some form or another. Now, I don't know the many and varied reasons why the video has been reposted, but I certainly know why I'm posting it here.

You see, recently I was teaching on a passage of Scripture taken from Luke 10:25-37--It's come to be popularly known as the story of "The Good Samaritan." It strikes me that the object lesson which Jesus was attempting to illustrate was the idea of what one must do to "inherit eternal life." Jesus is asked this question by a well-learned attorney at law. He responds by asking the attorney what the Good Book has to say about it. The attorney responds, "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."

That last little detail, it would appear, might have been somewhat of a sticking point for our wise and learned friend, and so he asks Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" I'm eternally grateful that he asked this question, and that Jesus answered it leaving no room for equivocation, otherwise I'm fully persuaded that this would have been an eternal, long-standing and contentious debate amongst believers, as to who our neighbor actually is.

Jesus' response? He told the story of the Good Samaritan. Now, for the sake of brevity I'm not inclined to repeat the story in too much detail here, so if you're somewhat behind on your Bible knowledge stories then read it here so that you can follow along with the rest of us as we embark on this journey of discovery. Suffice it to say that in the story we discover that your neighbor is the very person who has persecuted and judged you the most and the loudest.

There was no love lost between Jews and Samaritans (this fact is highlighted for us in John 4:9 in the story of the Woman at the Well). Samaritans were regarded as half-breed Jews and outside of the covenant God had made with Abraham. They had been persecuted endlessly and were not even accepted in their own homeland. As the story goes, a Jew had been robbed, beaten and left to die by the side of the road. First a priest and then a Levite (holy man) came upon his bloodied body and crossed the street to the other side, presumably so that they wouldn't be late for their appointments to save the world.

Then along comes this Samaritan who, not only tends to the wounds of his Jewish adversary, but he places him on his own horse (note that it wasn't a high horse) and brought him to an inn for rest and recuperation. He proceeded to pay for his care out of his personal funds and committed to pay whatever else was due and payable upon his return from his originally proposed journey (which he had clearly abandoned until the following day so that he could care for a man who thought of him as a second class citizen). Do you see the parallels yet?

This is not a condescending attempt to be charitable toward the lady who spewed so much noxious venom in her diatribe above. It is simply an attempt to live out the true intent and meaning of the Scriptures. Jesus declared "Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?" The learned lawyer answered, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus responded, "You go, and do likewise." I guess that settles it. You can't argue your way out of that one can you?

I don't know anything about this lady. For all we know she may have been abused or abandoned by her parents. She may well have been abused or molested by the only black people she knew growing up. She may even have been bullied in school or abandoned by her husband for another woman... heck, she might just have been having a bad day. Or not! Whatever the case, it's an irrelevant detail. Jesus made it clear that the one that's our neighbor is not just the one that sits beside us in Sunday School, that looks nice, smells nice and speaks Christianese.

In fact, it would appear that Jesus wanted to make it abundantly clear that our neighbor is the one who wishes us ill and hopes for our demise. Our neighbor is the one that spews vitriol on the tram, calling us names and deriding us for even thinking that England could be our country if we're black... or Polish! Evidently it has little to do with the color of your skin as much as it has to do with anyone who wasn't born in the UK and who doesn't speak with an English accent.

So while this video is going viral, you might be tempted to join the bandwagon of haters and deriders screaming for her head. If you're a Christ-follower, then according to Jesus, that is the wrong response. Can you imagine what it could do for her and her child who is subjected to being raised with such unfounded prejudice, if we, instead of calling for her head, determined to kill her...with kindness and love?

Imagine what could happen if millions of Christ-followers who viewed this video decided to take a moment out of their busy "priest and levite" schedule and just become the Samaritan that cares enough to deviate from the norm and pray for her? Oh the endless possibilities. Just my two cents!


Ash said...

what i liked about the video is that the black woman in the back - didn't immediate defend herself or race or anything like that, she asked the mother to have respect for the children on that tram, particularly her own...having a sense of their innocence and - her notion was protective and considerate.

Joseph said...

Well said Ash!