I thought I would venture out. See a few sights, I mean, nothing big. Sometimes this town just feels like the whole world, even though I know there is more out there. So, I decided to leave for a bit. See what was happening somewhere nearby.
And, I have to admit it was exciting at first. Saw people I have never seen, places I have never been. Everything just seemed different. I walked around for a while, just taking it all in. I know that people where I live come here a lot, and I wanted to see some of the places they talked about, but I just wasn't sure how to find them. Everything started looking kinda run down and maybe a little scary, but I saw a group of guys talking, so I thought I would just stroll over and ask for some directions.
I thought they were being kind and neighborly when they offered to take me to the place I asked about, only to find out that was not the case. Much to my surprise they attacked me and left me beaten there on the side of the road. Right there in the ditch where people passing by could see me.
In the state I was in it was hard for me to call out. Oh, I tried alright, but I was so weak and in so much pain. I tried to pull myself up to get someones attention. But, for quite some time I saw no one.
Then, suddenly I heard footsteps and I was unable even to cry out. I couldn't tell because I couldn't see very clearly, but it looked like my priest from where I am from! But, I knew this could not be because this man, when he saw me there, he went to the other side of the road to avoid having to help me.
And there were others that passed by and left me. Left me for dead. One appeared to be a Levite, but how could this be? He too, went to the other side of the road rather than take a chance of soiling himself by trying to help me.
There came at last a man who pulled me from what was more than likely my death. He reached his hands down to where I was and took my broken body, cleaned and dressed my wounds. Such compassion I felt from this man. He placed me carefully on the animal he was traveling on and brought me to an inn where he took care of me all night.
The next day, he gave money to the innkeeper to continue to care for me and told him if he used more than that amount, he would repay him when he passed this way again.
It is because of this man I can tell my tale. This man who is a Samaritan by birth.
I realize the error of my ways too late. The road I was traveling on is also known as the "Blood Pass" because so many are ambushed along this treacherous path. And, maybe the others that passed by saw me and wondered if I was setting them up as a trap. Maybe they thought, "What will happen to me if I stop to help him?"
Or maybe they assumed I was already dead and knew that to touch me would make them unclean. I will never be sure. What I am sure of is that I owe my survival to the compassion of a man I was raised to hate. While those that I have revered could not even stop to see if I was still breathing, this man thought, "What will happen if I DON'T stop to help him?".
I have noticed something of late. I have noticed that as Christians we have become very quick to decide who is worthy of us pulling them out of the ditch, and who we will just leave for dead. We see our own brothers and sisters who have fallen into a sinful situation and who are covered by not only the filth of the fall, but are also injured, broken, beaten and spiritually "dying" and instead of walking over to check for a pulse, and administering CPR, we throw up our hands and say, "they are going to die anyway."
I have actually heard someone say, "I washed my hands of them." That cannot be true. Because to say you have washed your hands implied that you actually got them dirty. And, if you got them dirty that means you were reaching down toward their broken, beaten, almost lifeless body to help them back up.
Here's where I am leading with this. We have someone who perhaps wandered into a strange place, went somewhere they had no business being, hung out with people they had no business hanging around. And, they find themselves in a struggle. During this struggle that has come about because of wrong choices, and wrong decisions, they are injured, sometimes badly. Sometimes, they are almost utterly destroyed.
The people they have always depended on, the ones they trusted, are sometimes the ones who leave them dying in their own mistakes. So, what happens to these people left there to die? Someone else comes along and shows them compassion. Someone else comes along and cleans and binds their wounds and puts them on their own animal and takes them to a place of refuge and pays the price for them to stay there and heal.
And when they are "healed" of their injuries, who do you think they will consider "good?"
I am not condoning sin. Please, do not misunderstand. Sin is sin. And we should take care least we find ourselves on the "Blood Pass," ambushed by the world we only wanted to explore for a little while. There is danger in wandering away.
I listened to someone recently who has made grave mistakes. Sin took them farther than they could ever have imagined. And, they found themselves locked away in prison. They related a story to me about the church they had been attending. They stated that there had been a pastor there who was very compassionate, but his wife left him and they ended up divorcing because she was taken in sin. This man met another godly woman and remarried and when this happen he was asked to leave the church.
They said, "You know, I sat there in prison and not one person from that church ever came to see about me. Not. One. Person. I was at the lowest I have ever been. And yeah, I know it was my own fault. But, not even my pastor that had been placed over the church came to see me. Then one day, the old pastor came, the one that had been sent away. He came to see me, and you know what he said? He told me he loved me."
As I watched them retell the tale, I watched their eyes fill with tears as they related the fact that this man who had been rejected heard what had happened, and he drove miles and miles just to reach out to them as they lay dying in their own ditch. When everyone else had written them off, and washed their hands of this person and their wrong, someone they were told not to associate with came and reached into the filth and cleaned and bound the wounds left on this person's heart.
We want to reach the lost. That is our fervent prayer. And we want to stop those we see wandering away. But, sometimes we may have to get our hands dirty when we find them broken. Sometimes it may cost us to make sure they are able to heal. We can turn away and leave them there for dead when we find them, but, someone will come along eventually. Someone who will give them the compassion they so desire, someone who will clean them up and bandage up their broken parts, and help them heal. And when that happens, when they no longer see the church or the people therein as their help, as their place to heal, as their place to rest, as their refuge from the destruction the world can bring to a soul, when that happens, well.......
That dirt won't wash off.