September 21, 2020

Pastoral Nuggets: Look for the Helpers

“When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” … Mister Rogers.

In Luke 10:25-37 we find the Biblical story of The Good Samaritan.

In a nutshell, the story is about a man who was a Samaritan … a half-breed. He was half Jew and half Gentile. And he was hated equally by both races.

In the story, he happens upon a man who had been beaten, robbed, stripped of his garments, and left half dead. Before he arrived, the good church folk, the priest, and the Levite, also saw the man.

Sadly, in silent complicity they passed him by. They did not hurt him; they just did not help him!

Now, as we digest this story, it is critically important that we understand some things.

First, the Good Samaritan had nothing to do with what happened to the man. Secondly, he could not undo what had happened.  Thirdly, he could not track down, catch, and bring the perpetrators to justice. But most importantly, he could not pass him by. He realized that to do so would make him complicit with those who had done this awful deed.

So, he did the only thing he could. He, the most unlikely person to do so, rose above his personal prejudice and animosities, went to the victim, and became a helper. He met his needs.

America is in a similar place today. Regarding Mr. George Floyd, and others, we have witnessed tragedies – tragedies that are not our fault, and that we cannot undo.

And while America is a nation governed by the rule of law, and in America a person is still presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, judging simply by what I have witnessed on the news, social media, etc., those police officers are guilty of murder.

And I decry that as strongly as I can! And while I will defend anybody’s right to peacefully assemble, protest, and have their voices heard, what we have witnessed of late, by any stretch of the imagination, has moved far beyond peaceful protests. It has degraded into rioting, looting, violence, and senseless anarchy. And I strongly decry that as well! Neither action is right! And you cannot make them right!

But here is my point, the Good Samaritan found himself in the same situation.

So, what did he do? He put his personal feelings aside and refused to become complicit by remaining silent and passing by. He involved himself in the situation by going to the man and becoming a helper. He did what he could!

And while it is not spelled out in Jesus’ story, I believe that because of the actions of the Good Samaritan, he and the victim would have forged a friendship that would have lasted the rest of their lives. There would have been no race problems between them.

I wonder, when will we see that this is the solution to the problems we face today. And that this solution is only found when we, “all of us,” on purpose, do what the Good Samaritan did.

What has happened may not be our fault, we cannot undo it, we cannot bring the guilty to justice, but we can be a helper!

This past Saturday my wife came into the living room with tears in her eyes. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that she had just talked to our son, who is a Firefighter/Paramedic in the Atlanta area. He told her that he and his crew had been instructed to bring all their personal protective equipment with them to work – and to wear their bulletproof vests. At that moment, something changed within me.

This whole thing got very personal, very quickly. My son was being put into harm’s way because of the illegal, senseless actions of others. I got angry!

And I am still “all up in my emotions and feelings” about this! But I decided to try to channel my emotions into something positive.

So, I called my good friend, Pastor WT Edmondson, whom I have known since high school and who happens to be African-American. He came to my office and we dialogued for a couple of hours.

As we were finishing, I asked him why everybody could not do as we just did.

He replied to me, “Aaron, friendships like you and I share are the only real solution to these problems. It is going to take individuals befriending those who do not look like them, developing relationships with them, and having the hard conversation that we just had. Change happens in individuals first. Then it happens in families. Then, and only then, does it happen in society.  But just as with the Good Samaritan, it starts with one person deciding to purposely set aside their feelings, agendas, prejudice, and becoming a helper!”

Folks, we are in trouble. I have never seen things like they are right now.

Granted, we did not get into these problems overnight, and we will not get out of them overnight, but change must start somewhere. As Christians, let us not look to the government or some other secular group to solve our problems. Let us, “all” of us, focus on being a helper. Yes, by all means, change what you can! But above all, commit to being a helper.

I must believe that if we, all of us, will do this, then in time, the rest of the problems will be resolved. Through Jesus Christ, and much prayer, is where the resolution to our problems starts.

My challenge to us today is that we will not allow our reaction to today’s problems to be a “flash in the pan,” but rather, a catalyst that sets into motion the things that bring long term, meaningful, positive change to Troup County Georgia, and the rest of the world.

In this time of great upheaval and uncertainty, let us look for the helpers. No! Let us be the helpers!

I love you all!

Brother Aaron   

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