“So many people talk about changing the world, but you guys are actually doing it,” my brother told me with tears in his eyes and a quivering chin.
He’s rather enamored with our foster children.
My youngest brother…the real live baby doll I held and rocked as a thirteen-year-old while singing “Edelweiss.”
He was the wayward teen my heart prayed for with tears while he wandered, and then rejoiced for with tears when God’s grace captured him.
He has always been a person who just loves people. His heart is open, his hugs are warm, and his smile is infectious.
He’s the man who wants to serve in the Peace Corps. Who wants to minister to disadvantaged people in foreign lands. And maybe someday, right here at home.
(Preferably within a one-hundred mile radius of me, but I digress…)
To say I was humbled by his open admiration is a vast understatement. I still have tears in my own eyes as I’m remembering it.
Because the thing is, I don’t feel like I’m changing the world.
Most days, I’m thankful to manage to change out of my pajamas.
But as I considered my brother’s words, God brought a different Word to my mind. A Word about a traveler who happened upon someone in need. A Samaritan who happened upon a wounded man who had been the victim of a violent crime.
“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was,
and when he saw him, he had compassion.”
A Lesson from the Good Samaritan
It occurred to me as I pondered this parable that our well-known “Good Samaritan” understood the power of one.
You see, he got an education he likely wasn’t looking for on the road that day. He came face to face with a reality he had perhaps only ever heard about. That road from Jericho to Jerusalem was infamously dangerous, often referred to as the “Way of Blood.”
What must he have thought when he saw a prostrate figure in the distance? A vague form lying by the roadside? Did he expect to be attacked himself?
As he drew closer and could see clearly the body of the injured man, did he wonder if the perpetrators were still close by? Did he suspect that perhaps the man was feigning injury in order to fool passersby and victimize them?
I can’t say that I blame the priest and the Levite all that much for walking by the man without stopping to help. Because I know too well how easy it is to find an excuse to do nothing.
But the Samaritan didn’t take the easy way out.
And do you know what else he didn’t do?
He didn’t look over the man’s injuries while tearfully shaking his head in dismay, muttering, “Poor guy,” before turning away.
He didn’t leave the man bleeding and return home to bemoan to his friends about all the hurting people on the road these days.
He didn’t abandon the man in need and petition the government for more patrols on the roads to improve traveller safety.
And he didn’t leave the man alone, wishing there was more he could do about all the violence in the world, assuaging his inaction with a decision to call a prayer meeting for the man’s healing when he arrived home.
What did he do?
He just helped one.
And our Lord affirms the power of one in his admonition to the disciples just a few verses later:
“You go, and do likewise.”
Did the Good Samaritan change the world?
Of course he did…
And as far as Jesus was concerned, that was enough.
I have no doubt that my keenly intelligent and truly tender brother just might change the world for multitudes of people.
On the other hand, I’ll be just as proud if he changes the world…
More top posts on engaging the world: