I was trying to describe the meaning of Biblical love to a child once. The child immediately gave me their 'love proverb' saying, "Love everybody you like." She didn't know how close she came to what Jesus was criticizing in the parable of the Good Samaritan!
Over the rest of 2021 we will be doing something challenging, at least to me. Our children are following a specific and structured process to learn and apply Scripture. The process is a three-year plan that uses stories, principles and applications to build a bridge between God's living word and the lives of God's people. I will use the same passages as I preach to our adults, and I hope for some family discussions over meals, car rides and other times these discussions are appropriate.
Back to our parable. Jesus uses a story to illustrate God's wise and perfect view of people ... a view we seem to miss more than we grasp. Jesus spends some time defining exactly what a neighbor is. The Jews viewed neighbor as part of the Hebrew national clan. It was the little girl's "love everybody you like," or maybe "love everybody like you." Jesus seems to define neighbor differently, and He starts with a person clearly different than his audience. Jesus' example of a neighbor is a hated Samaritan. An injured man is neglected by the people who call themselves his neighbors. They have their reasons for the neglect. But in the end, even the audience of Jews must admit that the Samaritan is the one who is neighborly to the injured man. Jesus ends the story with one of His annoyingly-perfect statements ... "Go thou and do likewise." What does He mean by that?
Does he mean for us to act like the Samaritan? Definitely! But ... does He also call us to view the Samaritan (and those we place in the "they" category) as our neighbor? That would mean "they" have value! It would mean "they" are more like us than we would like to think. It would mean we should love "them" rather than just loving everybody "like me."
These lessons that we and Jesus are teaching our children are just plain difficult. Personally, I think Jesus is meddling! What do you think? Randy