The Hardest Parable
They're all in the book
The way he taught
have you ever stopped and thought about the way Jesus used things to teach lessons? He pretty much used whatever he had to hand to teach what he wanted the people then (and by extension us) to know about the Kingdom of God and how it operates.
He was a master storyteller and loved to tell stories to demonstrate his point, there's one story that he told that over the years has literally 'burned' itself into my soul and while there are times when I 'blow it' I just can't get away from the way he wasn't mincing his words when he told the story. It's a parable that those of us who went to Sunday school learned all about the story and thought it was a really 'cool' story, I can also guarantee anyone who's a regular church attendee will have heard hundreds of stories on this parable and wach one is great, but hardly ever gets to the bottom of the story.
I'm actually going to try not to mention the parable itself in this hub as I want to leave you to think what it might be, but I'm going to tell you why it's burned itself into my soul, and it's not a story I'm all that comfortable with as, well you'll see why!
My Parable lessons
Where and when
For me the biggest lesson came in 1996, I'd been working among the Kurds in Iraq for about three years and was absolutely 'in my element' if you know what I mean, I was absolutely loving being there and loving what I was doing, but it was all about to go pear shaped big time, and would leave me with a lesson about Jesus' parables that I don't think I can ever lay aside!
Back then I was there with a Christian development organization helping the Kurds to rebuild their lives after the devastation of the war that was Desert Storm, since that time Saddam the tyrant had been forced out of the North of Iraq and a supposed safe haven created for the Kurds.
Northern Iraq at the time
The first casualty of war. TRUTH!
The reality was it was never safe, yes there was protection from Saddam, and the multinational force was diligent keeping him in check, but there were others meddling in the region and there was pretty much constant fighting for most of the time that I was there, the main thing was we knew where the fighting was going on!
"What has this to do with Jesus' parables" I can hear you thinking, well wait and see.
We'd been working up in a valley that ran just inside the border from Turkey, the valley ran east to west and was an absolutely amazing place, when Saddam had turned the gunships against his own this was the valley everyone fled to, this was the valley that they abandoned their cars and took any donkey that was available just to get over the mountain and into Turkey, it was also a place where the Kurds from Turkey also operated and they'd been fighting a guerrilla war against Turkey for about thirty years!
One time the team was on the way to the village we were working in when they came across an injured man, so they stopped and helped the man, nothing special, but just the kind of thing that you'd expect a Christian to do right?
What it's all about
Here's a question!
Here's a question for you, now take a while to think about this as your answer will define who you really are.
What if the helping puts your own life in danger?
What if the guy turns out to be a nasty piece of work, or even worse A TERRORIST??
These aren't idle questions! It's what happened! The day the team stopped to help the guy, I wasn't with them but they told me all about it that night, the injuries were bullet wounds and the guy had been shot!
We knew straight away the man was a Turkish Kurd who'd been wounded, we just took him to a Hospital right? Not according to Middle Eastern custom, we'd crossed a line and aided a Terrorist!! (at least that's the way some would see it!)
AND I'M PROUD THE TEAM DID THAT DAY!!!
Two months later everything went seriously 'pear shaped' as Saddam retook Erbil (a city I'd spent six months in at the start) and no one knew what was going on, two weeks later the 'safe haven' was no more and the only advice we got from the Military was "Get out NOW!"
The moment we crossed into Turkey we were followed by the intelligence service of Turkey and they followed us for about two hundred miles, the next morning I got a visit from the kind of people you don't want to get visits from
They kept me for about twelve hours interrogating me about the man the team had helped. It turned out that the man had been shot by Special forces who were waiting to see who would come to help him. when we turned up we got full marks for aiding and abetting Terrorists!
By the way the situation was "We know you aided the Terrorist, when we confirm it was you we'll take you back and a seven ounce piece of lead from a 7.62mm calibre bullet exiting an AK47 will make sure you don't leave!
Later that day they confirmed they had the right vehicle but the person was a few years older than me (it was actually a visitor to the Team driving that day).
Here's why I tell the story, Jesus knew when he told the parable to the locals at the time he knew that there was aslo the principle of 'blood money' that basically said that if you aid and help someone who then either dies 'on your watch' or commits a horrible crime then you are responsible!
When the Samaritan took the man to the inn he ran the risk that the man might die and he'd have to pay serious compensation to the family, otherwise he might pay for it with his own life!
Also there's the possibility that the man was actually the kind of man you might not want to meet on that journey and if he went on to do illegal stuff (remember Jesus had disciples who were regarded as Terrorists by the Romans, one of his closest was known as 'the Zealot' and he had others who were known as collaborators!!).
Here's why the parable is so hard to live out, because in it he tells us that truly following him requires radical and dangerous thinking in the way we reach out and actually "LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR"
Part of me really doesn't want to include the story I've put in the hub, it's not a story I've told that often even to those who know me but this last few weeks it's as if the Lord God himself has been saying "Lawrence, I gave you the experience for you to use for me! If you hold back then who else will tell my people to take care of my children!"
What would Jesus really do?