“Why do you love me?” is a question Mario often poses to churches we visit, reminding believers that it’s something the world asks of us. Because unfortunately, it sometimes seems that all we care about is getting converts.
Converts — that’s a word we personally don’t care for. It makes people seem like a wad of bills, to convert into Euro, or USD, or whatever currency needed. “Listen to my message, repeat after me, and switch over to my way of thinking. My way of life.” And we go away, pleased with having won another convert.
Meanwhile they’re asking, “Do you love me just because you want to win another convert, or do you want me to convert because you love me?”
There is a huge difference.
We’ve had acquaintances who, suddenly friendly, used a dinner invitation as a ruse. Just to present their pyramid selling scheme, only to drop us when we weren’t interested. Instead of offering friendship, they were only hoping to get something from us.
Shame on us if we present the gospel in this fashion.
Because the world around us is waiting for us to become the Good Samaritan in action.
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back,’ Luke 10:33-35.
If we ‘befriend’ people just so we can hammer them with our message, they might end up thinking, “You say you love me, but you really only want to line me up like a trophy. You don’t care about me, as a person.”
Today, October 24, is Make a Difference Day. A good day to remind ourselves that people are not trophies, but loved ones that Christ died for.
So many around us are looking for answers. They need a friend. Someone who will just sit, listen, and try to understand their hurt. Their confusion. Their pain. They’re looking for someone who cares. And it’s not really that hard to do.
Just try to think like the Good Samaritan.
#1 He saw and he drew near.
The priest and the Levite in this Parable saw the injured man, but looked away. Become like the Good Samaritan, and when you see need, hurt, or pain go over by their side. Draw near.
#2 He had compassion.
This world we live in is not a pretty neighborhood. Yes, there’s a lot of beauty too. But it doesn’t take long to see the ugliness, the depravity, the degradation. The Good Samaritan, unlike the priest and Levite, who wanted to keep themselves pure, was willing to dirty his hands and stoop down to the depths that man had fallen to.
#3 He showed compassion by offering a helping hand.
Christ’s compassion always involves action. Time and again in the Scriptures we see that when moved by compassion, he did something to help ease the problem. He fed and healed the people.
#4 But compassion that went beyond mere charity.
Charity is often easy: a bag of groceries, a bit of money. But such handouts, no matter how good, in the end do little. People need a hand to help them up. Like the Good Samaritan, let us put them in our own car, our own guest room, or on our own shoulders.
#5 Compassion that means cleaning them up and soothing their pain.
The Samaritan poured oil and wine on the man’s wounds. Oil to soothe the pain and wine to disinfect the wounds. Scripturally speaking, oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. And wine a symbol of blessings and joy. The wounded around us need soothing comfort.
#6 And truly loving and caring means taking them into our heart and life.
It’s demeaning and insensitive to treat others like a project on some to-do list. But loving them with Christ’s compassion means sticking with them. Like the Good Samaritan, we go back to check on them. Because we want to become a good friend and neighbor, not just a do-gooder, with a one-time act of charity.
Loving like the Good Samaritan, giving and expecting nothing in return, brings others to say: “There is someone who really cares. A bit fanatic perhaps, always talking about Jesus. But I know he or she really cares about me.”
“Why do you love me?” they’re asking. What answer do our actions show?