Perhaps you can relate to this scenario: It’s a bitter cold winter evening during the holiday season and you have many errands to run. After battling heavy traffic you venture into the busy parking lot of a large shopping plaza – praying for a spot so you can get in and out of the store quickly. As expected, the lot is packed and people are scurrying to escape the slushy snow and blustery wind. We were those people!
After making our purchases and exiting the store, we noticed an elderly woman wandering nervously around the parking lot. She caught our attention as she meandered in and out of the rows, looking around as if in search of something. This continued for several minutes as we loaded our purchases into the car and it just didn’t “feel right”. Concerned that maybe she couldn’t find her car, or had some sort of dementia, we decided to approach her to see if she needed help. Sure enough, she explained that she had been looking for her car for some time and was walking around in circles. She was visibly shaken and very cold. We offered to drive her around in our car so she could warm up and we would try to help locate her vehicle. She gratefully took us up on the offer and after driving up and down the aisles we eventually spotted her car – on the other side of the lot. We stayed with her until she was safely in her car and offered to follow her home to be sure she was okay. Once settled, she thanked us and assured us she could make it home safely.
Though many others passed her by, we couldn’t dismiss the sight of the woman wandering around in the parking lot, seemingly cold and confused. Jesus taught us through the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) that it is not always convenient to stop and help someone in need, especially a stranger. Yet, that is what we are called to do.
… which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-27
According to Jesus, our ‘neighbor’ is the nearest person to us who needs our help. It could be a friend, family member, coworker, stranger, or even an enemy. For us, in that moment, it was a stranger who needed our help and we were able to share the love of Jesus through this simple gesture.
Sometimes it’s a friend in need and sometimes a stranger. It may be a simple need or a bigger situation. The question for us is: are we going to be a “passerby” or are we going to be a “neighbor”? When have you been a neighbor, or been in need of one? Let us know in the comments!