That story about the Good Samaritan? Let’s pull it right out of the Bible and drop it in the middle of our sanctuaries. . . or better yet classrooms and living rooms. Let the Road of Jericho wind through the aisles and along the outer edges of the room, and walk the path with our eyes . . .who is lying on the side of the road? Would it surprise you that our paths are littered with church goers stripped and beaten by robbers and left half dead?
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. . .~ Jesus, John 10:10
What do you think they will look like? That unfashionably, frumpy woman? That seventy year old lady with the pretty eyes, salon-auburn hair, and grown-out manicure, who loves to gossip? That couple of a different race (different from ours), attractive, polished. The rotund little lady with bright eyes, several degrees, and a sharp mind. The beautiful woman in slim leggings and a whispery oversized blouse, elegant in jewelry.
Scratch the surface lightly, and you’ll find. . .secrets. . .
an abdomen being eaten by cancer as she clutches her Bible in her lap. . .
eyes that view everything and everyone through the filter of the day she buried her son. . .
Lonely, desperate heart in shock from betrayal, trying to re-make a marriage blind-sided by an affair. . .
Depressed, self-hating keeper of shame, sitting on a vault of memories she hopes no one will ever know. . .of being beaten and molested the first eighteen years of her life . . .
Wracked by constant pain and aware of the closest exit to every restroom, the small soul is unable to draw physical nourishment from her food because she has a disease. . .
These are the ones who have gotten up anyway, gotten dressed, and come to church. They sit there silently . . .stripped, beaten by the robber, and left half dead. . .in their Sunday best, clutching Bibles, serving on committees, and washing in like refuse from other churches.
They are all over the room, in every occupied chair.
Every occupied chair.
Will we, the Walking Wounded walk on by? Will we seek out those who look like us, who know our name? Will we somehow unintentionally look right past. . .or even through. . .this person in our path?
Or will we listen to that soft, still Voice. Give way to the gentle pull. To look to our left, to the right. When we reach out to shake a hand, will we look into the eyes? Will we see every precious face as a divine appointment, not to be judged, but to be treasured; not rushed but allowed the time to unwrap, to disassemble.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.
Beloved, let us pray for ourselves, that our ears will hear the cries from unmoving mouths. . . and agree that a Sunday morning at church has not been successful if the only people we became broken bread to were our friends. . .the only wounds we bound up were those of people we know.