I had one of those old desks in third grade. You know the one’s that would flip-up and you could hide all kinds of favorite things: pencils, old valentine’s day cards and dreams. One thing that was for sure, was that everything had it’s place. The paper was pushed to the front of the desk so it wouldn’t get crushed when you closed the aching old lid. The pencils could have gone anywhere, but usually were placed in the black Knight Rider pencil case. Everything had its’ rightful place. I wonder if that childhood moment has had some effect on how we see society and culture around us? I wonder if we think everything should belong somewhere and if it doesn’t fit neatly then our world’s in disarray.
There was this well-known road in ancient Palestine where robbers would hide and strategically find ways to beat and steal things from the innocent pedestrians that made their way from Jerusalem to Jericho. One day a Samaritan comes along. We tend to race past this point of the story. We’ve heard it many times before. Like an old story our grandfather might have told us about the war he was in long ago. In the Jewish culture, a Samaritan was a racial enemy. Someone who didn’t fit in and was disliked. We can all probably think of someone we just can’t get along with, that is the protagonist in this story. He’s the good guy. But, unlike the desk, he doesn’t fit neatly into our stories. In fact, according to Jesus, the Samaritan is who we need to take our cues from. We need to learn from him. Back to the story. He comes along after the religious people. The guys who should have known the right thing to do. In the Jewish Torah, life is sacred. Period. According to the Law, they were responsible to protect any human life, even enemies. The first two guys would have known this. But they walk on? Us, do we follow after them as well? One of the many points of this story is that God can choose
to use anyone to get his message across. Even the Samaritan. Even a Muslim. Yes, even the homosexual.
There is an age-old debate circulating through the halls of our church and through the living rooms of our house churches. It is the question whether the homosexual or someone else who has chosen a different lifestyle can actually be used by God. Maybe even in a pulpit. Or in a
position of religious responsibility. If the story of the Good Samaritan teaches us anything, it teaches us that homosexuals have a purpose in the Kingdom of God. Let’s dig a little deeper in why this is so. The Samaritan pays two denarii (the equivalent to two days wages), this seems like another detail that is put in for effect. If you look deeper into the story and the history surrounding this narrative, you might realize that Jesus wants us to see God bigger than our own safe theology. Two denarii was also known as the half-shekel atonement.
At the age of 13, a young Jewish child went from being a boy to a man and one of the many responsibilities of a man in that culture was to pay a temple tax. The temple tax was specifically reserved to purchase animals for the typical once-a-year sacrifice that the priest would enact for everyone on their behalf. His action would atone for the sins of others. Jesus is playing on the issue of atonement. Of being absolved from our sins. Here in the story though, it isn’t the priest who absolves the victim, it is the Samaritan. The outsider. The homosexual. He atones for the victims’ sin. It’s as if Jesus is saying, bigger than right or wrong, than sin or no sin, the one thing that can absolve the sins of another is hidden in the act of compassion. And anyone can join in on this movement of compassion. There is hope that we all can be a people dedicated to not merely seeing the need of someone else and walking by, but that we all, as the human race can fight indifference and wrong theology with compassion and grace. This is the invitation. Are you in or are you out?