Randy's Reflections
February 3, 2020, 6:00 PM

Pastor Randy's Reflection for February


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.” Luke 10:29-30

Last Sunday I reminded us that there is an urgency to seek justice in our world. I shared the story of Bryan Stevenson, the founder/executive director of the Equal Justice

Initiative. This organization seeks to help those on death row in Alabama whose trials and subsequent convictions might have been questionable.

Since he started this organization, over 140 inmates have been freed through evidence revisited. It was proved that those who were freed were not, in fact, the perpetuator of the crimes for which they were convicted.

In an article by David Garlock about Bryan, he shares three points from the parable of the Good Samaritan which bring it to life. In this parable, you have a Jew who was traveling and fell among robbers who stole all his goods and pummeled him, leaving him to die. There were two religious leaders who came by and saw the man but went about their business

without giving this man a second thought (Luke 10:33-35).

The Good Samaritan did three main things that changed the life of the man who had been robbed. Likewise, Bryan has done and continues to do these same things: (1) see something, (2) feel something, and then (3) do something. The Good Samaritan saw that the man was in need. He felt compassion and sorrow for this man and his state. He then performed first aid, led him on his donkey to an inn, and then paid for his stay until he was well. Without the Good Samaritan, the man would have surely died.

When Bryan walked into a prison and met his first death row inmate, he saw that there was a need. This is what began to churn his passion and desire to help the marginalized and

outcast. He saw someone his own age from a similar background to his. This rocked him to the core. So, he did something.

What does it take for us to seek justice for someone? Is it having a connection with them so we can look at them as one of “us”? Perhaps it is hearing a story that is similar to ours? Perhaps it is recognizing that this person needs help and we have the help they need? But I think there is one more important reason to cause us to take up the banner to help someone in need, and that is the God-given character trait of compassion.

If you read through the gospels, you will find that more than once Jesus responds to the needy people around him because of his compassion. This is the feeling part of the Good Samaritan story. This is bridge between the seeing and the doing part of this care-taker.

This is what I think we need to cultivate at John Knox Presbyterian Church. This is what will be the inner drive for us to assist others in desperate need. Has someone ever helped you? Has someone ever been your “Good Samaritan?” Then maybe now is the time for us look for ways in which we can become concerned about the world around us and that would be because of our compassion.

 

            Bryan Stevenson says that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of

poverty is justice. I believe the kingdom of God, or as the gospel of Matthew says the

kingdom of heaven, is one filled with compassion. When that compassion translates to action, then the justice of God will reign.

Let us cultivate the trait of compassion and see where God will lead us, for it is God’s mercy and grace that instill in us the compassion of Jesus. As his disciples, we need to grow in that compassion, so the kingdom of God will reign “as justice rolls on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:24

Seeking to grow in compassion and act on it with you,

Pastor Randy