February 12, 2007

The Half Dead Man – Luke 10:30-37

February 12, 2007

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.” Luke 10:30-37

When I think of Africa, I think of a neighbor. I think of an opportunity. In the global arena, we have here a neighbor who has fallen half dead and needs help.

The population of the earth continues to increase and such a place as Africa can seem a daunting, if not impossible task to any Christian. How can so many millions of people be helped?

Africa has continually experienced an increase in wars in the last century which could be said to correspond to the increase of nationalism, but also might be due in part, to the fact that poverty has also increased immensely at the same time. Either way its not going to stop. As a result of the wars, millions are displaced and forced into even deeper deprivation and hardship. I remember dedicating much prayer to Africa when I was there a couple years ago, asking God about its current situations. He showed me that the problems would continue to increase, and things will continue to get more and more difficult. When I asked about how we solve the problem, he said to me something along the lines of, “It’s not a problem for you to fix, but for you do endure.” When I think of that statement, I think of Jesus saying, “He who endures to the end…” If we are so bent on the outcome and end to our means of helping, we are missing the point of the parable of the Good Samaritan. That Samaritan gave of his own goods and lavished help on the half-dead man lying in the road, he then let him at the inn and went on his way. His concern was with his help and not a particular outcome. I believe we must not relent in showing mercy until the day of salvation regardless of how bad things become because the teaching of the parable is about how our hearts should be, rather than problems in the world and how to solve them.

Today, politicians rub their heads over the epidemics, the genocidal fighting, the tribalism, and ever increasing poverty. There is a saying in the geo-political arena that Africa is like a hole in which you can throw money and it disappears. The international banks and funds have poured vast amounts of money into Africa’s economy in the form of loans, effectively binding Africa under their control. The money, unfortunately dissipates rapidly out of dishonest political leader’s pockets, and Africa remains….worse than it was before. But it’s not about blame, or pointing fingers.

A man lies half-dead in the road.
In Jesus’ parable 2 out of 3 people walked by the half dead man. The majority, it seems, just don’t care. Yet, inspite of the odds of getting help being against the half dead man, there was one who had mercy to give. 1 out of 3 people might be a bad statistic, but to the half dead man, he didn’t care. All it took was one.

Our neighbor, Africa, surely longs for help. The opportunity exists for the mercy of God. The Good Samaritan lavished the half dead man with expensive oils and wine, his own transportation, a whole day’s wages, and even promised to take care of future costs. Talk about mercy, eh? No probing questions, deals, fidgeting, or strings attached. Just 100% pure mercy. Compassionate mercy. The Samaritan didn’t think twice about whether there might be other neighbors who might also need help.
In light of the help that has been afforded Africa, I have heard many speak of the ‘helping’ as being something that could be, in many cases, unwise. It is thought that they will come to rely and expect more help. Such a thought, to me, serves to show the extent of our mercy compared to that of the Good Samaritan.
The international banks and financial institutions have poured vast amounts of money into Africa, and it can be said that this has caused far more problems than it has solved. I do not know the numbers, but I’m sure the no-strings-attached, Samaritan-quality money given by Christians is far overshadowed by the amount of money poured in by international institutions, and probably secular NGO’s as well. When there are strings attached, giving is no longer the Samaritan kind of compassionate mercy. Thats what Africa needs. And God has ordained Africa as an opportunity for the rest of us to show it. That is a test for us, and I would submit to all that the last thing we as Christians should think about is whether we should be careful with not helping them too much. If you were in their shoes…

The troubles of Africa are huge, but it is not for us to try to put an end to the problems. It is for us to show mercy. How can it be anything other than opportunity for the rest of the Christian world that lavishes itself in ‘oils’, ‘wine’, pimp rides, and salaries? I thank God for the work that does exist in these war-torn, famine-laden, poverty-stricken countries. For those souls that are being taken care of, they don’t care about the majority of people who are passing them by everyday.
I think it would be a good question to ask ourselves corporately, and individually, “Am I going and doing likewise?” (Luke 10:37)

Indeed it’s hard to really understand the need until you have seen it. Typically, the non-profit movements and organizations aimed at helping Africa have found their beginnings when different individuals visited the countries and experienced the trauma first hand. Most of what the average Joe and Jane know about the dire situations in Africa come from the media. But, alas, this a pitiable source of informations. But then how can we, as neighbors of Africa, be exposed to the reality of a real half dead man lying in the road? Well, thank God for websites, missions, and blogs. Many missions organizations provide good publications addressing such needs. Of course few people read them. I remember seeing such magazines sitting in the foyer of my old church collecting dust from Sunday to Sunday. I think exposure exists, but many have become desensitized or indifferent to it. It just becomes a magazine with pictures. And after all, all they seem to ask for is money anyway. Somehow we need to be awakened to the reality. The magazines and various organizations are doing a great and honorable effort, but often even that takes a back seat to just the basic operating costs. Very little gets done. Perhaps a coalition is in order. There may be power in a single group putting forth an effort to to show mercy to some, but its when people combine their efforts that the power becomes strong. It will take a body of Christ, I believe, to meet the challenge of the half dead man lying in the road that God has put before us.

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40

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