The Samaritan Savior: immigration, missions, and the foreign love of God (Part 3)

I want to conclude by bringing out four implications, the first two relating to how we see ourselves and see others, and the final two relating to how we live as missionaries.  
First, Jesus comes to us, but as a Samaritan.  We have already seen how this form breaks our tie with our own people.  Our savior comes to us but not as one of us; he comes to us from outside, as an alien.  We have to follow him, but he is not the image of our people.  In fact, he’s closer to the counter-image, the opposite, of everything we pride ourselves in being.  Jesus shows us that our salvation is not tied to the destiny of our people.  We need not make our people “the right” kind of people; nor do we need to assure others that we are indeed the right kind of people.  Our people–our folk, good people like us–will rightly leave us on the side of the road.  They are not our future.  Our hope does not rest in our people, in the strength or goodness or purity of our people.  It rests only in the miraculous help that comes to us, Jesus.  But Jesus comes to us as someone like Tanveer, someone we think our people must exclude.  And if he comes to save us in this form, then salvation means that Jesus comes and breaks our connection to our own people.  Jesus comes to us, but as a Samaritan.
The second point is the same, but with a different emphasis:  As a Samaritan, Jesus comes to us.  He may come in the form of the alien, but he really comes to us.  He really comes and saves us.  We are now free to desire others beyond our own people.  Jesus first had to break our tie with our own people; now, he brings us to actually desire to be with these foreigners.  We can desire to be with them.  They are not revolting; they are witnesses.  They remind us that help will come to us.  We can move beyond our revulsion, through tolerance and into…miracle…love.  Desire.  Jesus comes to us in that form, the form of the alien, and so now we are able to actually desire to be with the alien.  We can see someone like the Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, Tanveer, not with fear, confusion, or revulsion but with the loving desire to be known by him and his people.  Our desire is free, free to follow the one who comes to us as an alien and an outsider; it is therefore free to seek to be love and be loved by the alien and outsider.  As a Samaritan, Jesus comes to us.
We’ve placed ourselves in the story and heard the scandalous claim that we are half-dead and unable to demand that God or our fellow humans come to our aid.  But Jesus came, restoring us to life and giving us a mission:  go and do likewise.  If we stopped short of this command, we would miss the story.  This brings us to the third and fourth point.
Third, The Samaritan Jesus calls us to follow him.  In missions, we are given the beautiful gift of watching Jesus become strange to us.  We learn to see how much we still think Jesus is the image of the best of ourselves (and our people).  In missions, in following the Samaritan Jesus, we watch that image dissolve before our very eyes.  We begin to expect that Jesus won’t look like us but that he will be found among those who aren’t anything like us.  When we follow him, we joyfully discover his surprising presence among those who are not our people, who are nothing like our people.  In being called to missions, we are given another grace, another gift, the gift of finding ourselves welcomed by a strange looking Jesus.  The Samaritan Jesus calls us to follow him.
Finally, we are called to follow the Samaritan Jesus.  We are called—what a blessing.  We are called!  This is not an ethical or religious obligation.  It is a gratuitous gift.  Let us rejoice; we are called to follow him!  It was a gratuitous gift that he came to our aid at all.  He could have left us on the side of road.  But he came.  And though he came, it would have been understandable if Jesus wanted us to stay at the hotel, hidden, out of sight.  I came to you, and I love you, but you are ugly, so stay hidden.  But no, he comes and says, you, follow me.  As you are, in spite of all your wounds and failures, come, be with me.  Walk with me.  Be part of my work.  Be my spokesperson.  See the life I will bring.  Tell others who may not see it.  Tell them that there is indeed a savior.  Tell them that I love them and see them and am moved with desire and loving pity.  We are sent to tell the world of this savior.  He is not one of my people, but he came to me anyways.  He pitied me.  He saw my wounds and was not revolted; he poured out his oil and wine, the very substance of his life, so that I could live.  And he is with you and your people now, already, before I came.  He is with you.  I know, because he was with me before I could call his name.  And he is with me now.  And I am learning to see him with you too.  That is our calling into his mission.  What a gift!  We–even we lawyers–are called to follow him.  We—even we lawyers—are called to bear his name.  Let us rejoice.  
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One Response to The Samaritan Savior: immigration, missions, and the foreign love of God (Part 3)

  1. Tim Otto says:

    Tim! This is the most beautiful and helpful exposition of the Good Samaritan that I've come across. Arther McGill identifies the Good Samaritan as Jesus (in his excellent book "Life and Death") but the idea of the religious folk being truly good was a new thought for me. It sharpens the parable and makes it all the more piercing. Thank you for being a servant of the word. This is certainly a needed word at this point in the church's life.

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