But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply, Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to
Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
– (Luke 10:25-37)
In this story, the two religious people who first encounter the man in the ditch walk away on the other side. This could have been because they were busy; it could have been because if they touched the man they would be unclean; it could have been because of many things; but it makes me want to ask, “Is our religion and busyness getting in the way of loving our neighbor?”
It seems like our only call as people of faith is to run to the ditches and then walk with those who have been beaten, forgotten, and outcast; so why are we so quick to walk on the other side? Why are we so quick to go back to our busyness and not actually see change through? Why do we think it is up to someone else?
God has called me as a youth pastor to run to the ditches, but also to be a voice for those in them. There are teens literally dying from gun violence, from suicide, from so many other things because we have set up a system that gives them no purpose. We have sent them to schools and the community and churches have walked away as if it would be taken care of. I am calling out our churches, our community leaders, our retired, our business leaders; WE NEED YOU TO RUN TO THE DITCHES. We need you to walk alongside our students, teachers, and administrations because it takes the whole village. We need you. Our young people need you. Nikolas needed you…
If you want to help out, talk to your local schools and ask what they need, volunteer to tutor, volunteer to encourage teachers. If you know how, get laws changed; do it. There is so much that can be done if we all are willing to run to the ditches.
May God open our eyes to those in our lives and to our young people who are left in the ditches. May our hearts be broken to do something more than “thoughts and prayers.” With God’s help, may we proclaim the good news and live according to the example of Christ. May we surround each other with a community of love and forgiveness that we might grow in our service to others. May we pray for each other that we may be true disciples, who run to the ditches and walk in the way that leads to life. “Go and do likewise.”
Olivia Keffer and Makenzie Knowlden have been friends since the beginning of their CYMT graduate residence journey, and this friendship has turned out to be one of the things that helped them make it to graduation day. Their story is one of affirming fellowship between two women who, despite living in different cities, helped each other answer their call to youth ministry.
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