Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan? If so, you may recall that in Jesus’ day, anyone who was a Samaritan was viewed as a sinner and a heretic; they were known as violent and evil. To put the story in today’s terms, it’s as if a very famous mega-church pastor, who has written books and is on TV, is on his way to a conference with several other pastors when he comes across a wounded man lying in the street. Everyone loves this pastor and looks up to him, so naturally, he is busy thinking about his ministry and all the people in his audience who he can help. As he ponders his calling, he encounters a man along the street in dire need of help, but he is too preoccupied to even notice. Following his lead, the other pastors do the same thing…they step right over the man who is bleeding and dying. Enter the Samaritan. As a member of a foreign religion, he is regarded as heretical by the pastors who just walked by, but nonetheless, he takes the time to stop and help.
You see friend, it doesn’t matter how good your theology and doctrine are if you haven’t learned to love your neighbor as yourself. This is what Jesus is teaching his followers, even today. If we don’t love the ones in the fifteen feet of space around us, we haven’t grasped what it means to be like Him, because love and mercy are at the heart of the Gospel.
I encourage you to become a minister of Jesus’ compassion. Don’t get too caught up in the busy-work of ministry to notice the immediate needs of others. Make the time and take the time; God will meet you there and do amazing things in and through your willingness!