The Good Homosexual (by Eric Wright)
A Jewish leader approaches Jesus to ask a question to test Jesus; to gauge how He thought people received eternal life. Jesus’ responds, ““‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27).
The first part of Jesus’ answer gave the religious leader no trouble. He spent his life trying to accomplish just that…loving God with the entirety of his being. It was the second part he wrestled with. So, seeking to justify himself, he asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus tells a story that many of us have heard a thousand times. But the Parable of the Good Samaritan is more than just a nice story to remind us who our neighbor is. It is meant to confront our prejudice and challenge us to love others without reserve.
In the first century, this story would have outraged Jesus’ listeners. Samaritans were hated by the Jews. They were half-breeds who distorted the true religion of God, and created idolatrous places of worship. Jews hated them so much that they refused to walk through Samaritan territory!
When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, he knew he was challenging a cultural prejudice in the Jewish community. He not only made the Samaritan the neighbor, but also made the Samaritan the example of what it meant to demonstrate God’s righteous love to people. Jesus’ story places the Samaritan in the role of the righteous. The priest and the Levite, people who should have been demonstrating God’s love, did not stop.
The religious leader had asked, “Who is my neighbor?” but Jesus never answers the question. He does, however, answer the more important question, “Whose neighbor am I?” As Jesus tells the story, the religious leader is forced to identify with one of the characters. It can’t be the priest or the Levite who pass by the man without helping. He is certainly NOT the Samaritan. So he is forced to see himself as the broken and beaten man receiving care from the considered his enemy; the hated Samaritan. That would surely have ruffled feathers.
If Jesus entered any church today, I think His stories would be just as challenging. He would find the person we most despise. He would select the person we believe to be the worst of sinners, and challenge us with a story making that person the example of God’s righteous love to the hurting.
His story would likely be renamed The Good Muslim or The Good Homosexual or…well, you would be the best person to fill in that blank. Those we despise would be the example of how to demonstrate God’s love, and not the pastors, elders, or board members of the church who passed by on their way to the next Bible study.
Maybe then we would understand the shock this story created.
Eric Wright is a church planter who lives in Huber Heights, Ohio. He pastors an outward focused church that seeks to love people where they are and help them take their next step closer to God. You can follow his blog at www.themergeblog.com.