Monday, October 17, 2011

White Liberals, Black Consciousness and the Good Samaritan

I know that much of the way we understand the Bible comes from the context that we believe it is addressing. Just like a golf ball looks different in the snow to when it is on a putting green. Sometimes if we don't understand a Bible passage we 'reverse engineer' it from the context.
I guess most people have been confused by Luke's account of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. The sequence is:
Expert: Love your neighbour
Jesus: You've got it
Expert: Who is my neighbour?
Jesus: Tells story. Which of these three men was a neighbour?
Expert: The one who had mercy.
So, following the sequence, who are we to love? Those who have mercy on us.
Now this doesn't really gel with us. We are expecting a 'love your enemy' scenario, not a 'love your friend' scenario. So we focus on Jesus's next words 'Go and do likewise'. In other words, act as the Samaritan did. I think that the reason we choose to focus on those words is because our context tells us that the issue is not loving those who help us, but rather loving those who differ from us (Jews/ Samaritans) and so we find the force of the parable in the context, rather than the parable itself.
In South Africa we are moving into a new context. A context (driven by Black Consciousness) that says 'don't allow others to help you - stand up for yourself' (and generally these others are labeled 'white liberals'). In this new context, what does the parable of the Good Samaritan say? It says that you may be utterly galled by having to receive help from someone that you despise, but love that person anyway. He or she is your neighbour.


Steve Hayes said...

The most obsviour meaning of the parable is that the lawyer's question is the wrong one. It is not "Who is my neighbour?" (ie what is the minimum I can get away with?) but rather "Who can I be a neighbour to?"

I don't think this is an invitation to guilt-driven do-gooding, or even benevolence-driven do-gooding, and especially not self-promotional do-gooding, but it is still needed today, as this story shows:

Help late; girl run over by 2 vans dies -- Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 -- English Window to China New: A two-year-old toddler was run over by two vans and mortally wounded, after which 18 people passed her indifferently in south China's Guangdong Province.

Thanks to the 19th passer-by, a woman garbage collector who came to her aid about seven minutes after the first hit

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Yes, I think Jesus is saying that you don't get to choose your neighbour.
re your link - it seems as if compassion is no longer considered a virtue! Sad. But I'm challenged for myself to be motivated by compassion not my own 'rights'! I know I need God's help.