Friday, June 24, 2011

Karma and the Good Samaritan

Through the parable of The Good Samaritan, Jesus gave us a portrait of sacrificial love. While a rabbi and a priest failed to help a victim of a mugging, a foreigner was willing to give all for the sake of the victim. Jesus didn’t specify why the rabbi and the priest avoided helping the victim. Perhaps, this is because we invoke many possible excuses to not help.

Some might use the excuse of “karma.” According to this reasoning, the victim deserved what he received. Perhaps, he should never have been on that dangerous Jericho road, or perhaps his bad karma has just caught up to him. According to this reasoning, “We need to allow them to reap their deserved karma and not interfere.”

In perhaps a more benign form, some make use of “Christian karma” to justify walking past the victim. Recently, I posted an essay on my blog and various Facebook pages – Religious Persecution: A Letter to President Obama – asking the President to intervene on behalf of persecuted Christians. One respondent wrote:
• Daniel, President Obama, or any other human being, can't do anything about what has been prophecied. We're in the end times-though, the time isn't ending as soon as some think - and those are signs of the time. This is just the beginning of sorrows.

The respondent was essentially stating, “Christian persecution is inevitable, and therefore we are not required to try to intervene.” The same logic could also be applied to the Good Samaritan – “It was fated that this man be victimized. Therefore, I don’t have any responsibility here.” It can also be applied to helping anyone in need.

However, this solution just doesn’t work Biblically. When Mordecai heard about Haman’s plan to destroy the Jewish people, he could have told Queen Esther, “Well, that’s sad, but we know that the Jewish people are destined to experience persecution. So let’s just allow the chips to fall where they may.” Instead, Mordecai influenced Queen Esther to intervene, resulting in the salvation of the Jewish people.

Indeed, God’s plans will prevail, but this fact shouldn’t detract from our responsibilities, which are very clear and unequivocal:

• James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

• 1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

• Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

In fact, God accomplishes His plans through our prayers and deeds. So please don’t hesitate to speak out against injustice and oppression. Such is pleasing to our God:

• Isaiah 58:6-7 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

In this regards, I’m deeply troubled about what is happening once again in South Sudan:

• On July 9 the Republic of South Sudan is set become the newest nation in the world. But rather than capping a six-year peace process…the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) launched attacks in mid-June in the Nuba Mountain area of central Sudan…In Kadugli, the state capital, eyewitnesses reported two churches burned…At the Episcopal church, according to a witness, a guard stationed inside the church was dragged outside and murdered. SAF soldiers also went door to door in search of suspected members and supporters of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which fought the North for over 20 years, and reportedly executed them. Meanwhile, aerial assaults by MIG jet fighters and Antonov bombers have left mud and grass huts burned to the ground and villages destroyed. One eye-witness estimated…that over 1,000 had been killed in only a few days of attacks. (WORLD, July 2, 2011, 10)

Prior to this, genocidal attacks food blockades by the Islamic North had reduced the population in this one region “from over 1 million to less than 400,000.” If all we can do is exercise mouth or tongue, then let’s do it (James 4:17)!

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