Image source: ChristiansforSocialAction
There was a time when with $40 I would fill up my car at the petrol pump, now it cost me $100. As the world seems to be coping better with COVID-19, we are entering a period of high petrol price, and continued increase in food cost. Cost of living is rising daily; for some Christians in places like Nigeria, India, North Korea, there is the added persistent persecution from non-Christians to also deal with.
What happens to love in these hard times, and in even more difficult context of living with persecution today. I remember how I struggled to love during a period when I was unemployed. I was not reachable by family, and did not care much for friend, neighbor, or the stranger. One of Jesus more famous parable, the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, was a commentary on love in hard times.
Jesus told of an Israelite traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho; the Jericho road at that time was called the ‘way of blood’. Israel was under Roman colonisation, and this was resisted by armed jewish rebels; some rebels were also bandits and thieves. The Jericho road was lonely, not well protected, and the playground for armed bandits and thieves. Common advice to travellers was not to stop for anything, keep on moving; this was the dangerous context for the parable of the good Samaritan.
Luke 10:30-35 (NIV) (shortened) says: “… [a] man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers… A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite… But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was… took pity on him… bandaged his wounds… put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn… The next day he took out two denarii (2 days pay for a laborer) and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have…”
During this hard times in Israel’s history, they hated their neighbors in Samaria (the Samaritans); so the Israelites listening to Jesus tell this parable, would have been shocked that a Samaritan, with money, would put himself in serious danger on Jericho road, to help an Israelite. Love in hard times, exposes the person offering love to the needy, to an increased risk of inconvenience and danger. We will all be tested, whether we can love our neighbor, love a stranger, like ourselves in these hard times!
Dear Lord, give us grace, strength, and wisdom to love like the good Samaritan, in these hard times, Amen!