Do for the one
“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’” Luke 10.33-35 | MSG
“Do for the one what you wish you could do for all.”
It’s the rule of thumb in our faith community. The temptation is to do little or nothing for one person because we can’t do that for everyone. Back to paralysis.
What strikes me here with the Good Samaritan is the fulness – more than that – the extravagance of the care he quite literally poured into this one wounded man. Like the priest and Levite before him he came. Like them he saw. And while we can only speculate as to what emotional response (if any) the sight of the half-dead man produced in the priest and Levite, with the Good Samaritan there is no guesswork: it was visceral. Literally. His own internal wailing cry.
The word is splagchnizomai – a verb form of the basic Greek word for bowels or guts (splagchna, essentially pronounced splank-nah). He was “moved in his bowels” certainly doesn’t work for us in English, but gutted does. It’s the same word used for Jesus’ response to the man full of leprosy who ran up to him and fell at his feet, defying all social convention and risking revulsion as he begged for healing. Jesus was gutted at the sight of him resulting in an immediate hand extended towards him, then the touch, then the spoken words, “I am willing be cleansed,” then the healing. It’s the word used for Jesus’ response upon seeing the crowds of people clamoring to him who were “like sheep without a shepherd.” He didn’t turn away and leave to check out recreational sailing possibilities on the Sea of Galilee. He told his followers to pray for many harvest hands to work those fields – and then he sent them out to get busy in it themselves. Genuine compassion disturbs you to the core and leaves you no choice but to act.
There is no turning away or changing the channel or angling to the other side of the road. There is only walking towards and into the mess. There is only embracing the wounds, getting smeared with the blood and tears, and risking radical care.
Pursuing a kingdom lifestyle of genuine compassion is pursuing of lifestyle of interruptions. Whatever that Samaritan’s plans and agenda had been, they were shelved, delayed, or cancelled outright. Being gutted does that to you. Perhaps this is why we avoid really seeing. To risk seeing is to risk feeling; to risk feeling is to risk being interrupted and acting; to risk acting is to risk, well, everything.
I believe it was John Wimber that said faith is spelled R-I-S-K. Funny how we tend on a practical level to identify faith with a conservative motion of playing it safe with the known and quantified (aka angling to the other side) rather than such risky, liberal, extravagant care given to the one, as we could only wish we could do for the many.
What is the most recent example of how your faith has led you to risk? What happened?
Lord give me the grace to risk seeing, to risk feeling, to risk acting, to risk everything. Draw me out of what can be the safe bubble of my own existence into that portion of the field where you would have my head, heart, and hands engaged in being and bringing your healing touch. Through Christ.