Luke 10:25–37 (ESV)
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 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.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
This parable of the Good Samaritan is my holy hurt. When I was first saved and saw Pastor Gene Appell at the pulpit in 2004, I thought my holy hurt was to preach the Gospel, speaking the Truth of God’s love, mercy and grace into the lives of countless others as He had spoken it to me. But, just as the parable, the story lies only in the glimpse given in the Word but lives within the unspoken revealed life underneath. And that is where my holy hurt lies……surely, to speak the Gospel…preaching if necessary, but living and breathing it definitely.
“The teaching of the law is definitive. It is by grace through a faith that works in love (Gal 5:6).”[i] We go through this life with a direction that is defined and modeled by what we see as the truth. Sometimes it is ‘faith’ that is our method, sometimes nothing more than ‘love,’ but it is the Truth that motivates either in its manifestation in this world. And it is our neighbor to whom we are to live that faith and show that love. No matter whom they are.
We cannot do this, however, if our neighbor is dead. Loving a dead person is negated because the very motivation of love has been place beyond our reach: to show that person value and meaning. Yet it seems in today’s church that we have a requirement; not that the person come to Christ ready, absolved of his sin and shame, but that they come to accept Christ, have a brief requirement of help (whether physical, emotional, mental or financial) and become active, effective and unassuming members of the Body. We want instant fixes, ones that require the minimum interaction with another person because that person, in their need, holds sway over us and requires more than simple “prayer.”
We have broken, battered and bruised people walking the landscape of this world; the literal zombies of a people who have walked through life dazed, their only motivation a life free of pain, sorrow and loneliness. They stumble, shuffling in that ‘pull-stringed’ gait, through life looking for those impossibilities as the Enemy pulls them further from the Truth of God and the love He has to give.
The “high-class” Christians, those who have fashioned their worldview to support the massive bank accounts and toys that inhabit and crowd their life, pass by after throwing a few denarii in the general direction of the wounded soul…never knowing the person who lies dying there. The “middle-class” Christian, those who are maintaining a comfortable lifestyle with occasional forays into the ‘darker’ side of life on mission trips (short term, of course….Johnny has the soccer season starting in the fall), come close and peer down at the battered soul….grimace in sympathy and whisper quick prayers as they pat the shoulder of the dying person lying in the filth of the roadside….wishing they could do more.
Then there is the “poor” Christian, whom circumstances have brought him down the same road as the person lying in the ditch, but for a moment in life that delayed them sufficiently to prevent them from being the one bleeding to death in the dust of the earth. Walking the same journey at a different pace, this person sees the tragedy lying in the dirt and is required by their motivation (a love and undeniable faith in God) to assist that person. Not to do everything for them, but to triage them and carry them to where they can receive the help they need to recover and become alive.
That is the motivation for my ‘holy hurt.’ An undeniable love and mercy that has been given to me along this same road, I want to give to someone else. To render aid to them in the place where they lie, battered and bruised, and then carry them to the next part of the journey where they can be administered to and brought to full-life.
But my ‘hurt’ is more specific and that is why I have come to Concordia University Ann Arbor for study in the Family Life (Church Work) concentration Men’s ministry program. Families, the basic and simple building block of society, have been eroding since the Fall. We have placed less and less value, importance and understanding on this building stone the further we have progressed from God and His intent. We first removed the cornerstone, now the building is collapsing.
We have to fix what is broken, return the design to its original shape, focus and purpose. It would seem to me that everything we do requires this to be foundational, strong and true. We can try and fix children to ‘walk in the way of the Lord,’ and yet still see them fall prey to the thieves that roam the paths of this world. We can try to highlight the feminine co-heir of God, a woman, and try to change how they are treated by a social perception of their design…inferior, worthless and weaker….and end up walking by them lying broken by those same thieves, robbed of their dignity and value.
Or we can be what God intended us to be; masculine men. Men of power and determination, striding along the road of this world looking for our hurt, wounded and dying, as we seek God’s favor, understand His love and experience His mercy in our lives. We don’t dominate or abuse our masculine design, because that is what has been happening in the world and has caused the sons and daughters of our ancestors to turn away from God and the Truth. No, our masculinity is defined by the design “built to bless.”
To save the family, we have to fix what is broken. Men for too long have given the cry of surrender because the world has accused them of being flawed, designed with a systematic error that causes them to malfunction. They must deny their power, their responsibility and the authority given because of this flaw. Men cannot be masculine, and the whole world is crying out in protest of the damage that has been done with that teaching. Men are to be masculine, but to live according to the design and intent of masculinity as the Creator made them to do; according to the parameters He set forth.
If Godly men live a masculinity reflective of the image of the God they bear, they will attract Godly women who carry the image of the God they bear and the two will give us a complete image of God, reflected to a world that needs him and to the children that are borne in the covenant marriage of relationship as God intended. These Godly families will attract other families, emulating Christ’s compassion and love in community. These families, living in communities of faith, will replicate other communities and soon a city is transformed. Once a city realizes the power of the Gospel, it will align with other cities formed in the same fashion and a state is born. From the state to a nation and from that nation to….the world.
It all begins with a Godly man.
And that is why this parable speaks so much to me about my holy hurt. He lived his life in a fashion that would have fit into today’s world, where he obviously went to work and did whatever job he had to the best of his ability, but always with the focus on the roadside ditch. Ready, without a moment’s hesitation, to step into the life of another and help them……bind their wounds and take them to a safe place where additional, more proper care could be rendered….with his own assurance of the payment, should more be required. There is no checking the validity of the work, no questioning the worthiness of its undertaking or even a hesitation of how it will be done. He simply did.
To speak into other men’s lives; of what it means to be a man…..to show them by opening my life to them how God intended us to live by examining how I have failed as a man to live….and to be a co-journeyer on this road, helping them to bind their wounds and stop the bleeding so that we can travel on to the inn (church) where more sustaining care can be given. To do so despite whatever cost is required and to ensure that the payment of time, relationship and effort are paid in full if more of it is needed.
Simply done, without fanfare or attribution, by a man who travelled along a road one day and saw someone in need, because he saw the bigger picture of what that crime meant.
To that end, this is a prayer that I offer before God as I draw closer and closer to fulfilling that purpose:
“Merciful Father, Mighty Man-Mighty God,
I yearn for the heart that You created in men, to be a force of blessing to those in their care; to use their physical strength to lift them higher than themselves, to use their leadership to be held accountable for the paths they take, and to bring about a place where the design and talents of those loved ones will be able to grow and be nurturing as You intended.
I know I didn’t have that in my life because of the man who was broken by his own life, battered by the demands of a world broken and bruised by his own sorrows. Help me to endure that with honor, and to bring it to light as I minister to men who are in that place; families hurting, wives lost and children being taught incorrectly what it means to be a Godly man biblically.
I neither have the wealth of the world or the finesse of speech to bring elegance and pomp to this endeavor. I have only what I carry, a jingle in the pocket that too quickly is silenced, but I give whatever You’ve given me to this end; to find them on the side of the road, abandoned and left for dead, and carrying them in the journey of relationship to the inn of Your church where they can be healed.
Sustain me in the times that are ahead, focus me on the place You carry me towards. Give me eyes to see those You would have me see, hands to bind the wounds of those I find and feet to carry them to safety.
In everything I have; that which is already done and that which has yet to become, let me find the worthiness of its experience in the glory You receive. In whatever I lay my hands upon, let it be with an intention of being Your hands so that the world would know Your mercy. Wherever I go, whatever job I am to do, let me do so with a love that drives me to impassioned heights of Your desire to see that ‘no one perish but all have eternal life.’
This, my dearest Lord and Father, I place all my hope, my fears and my love. Let me be the man You made me to be.
In the world of strife, conflict and sorrow…..what is your holy hurt and how has God called you to answer its call????
[i] Stein, R. H. (1992). Vol. 24: Luke. The New American Commentary (316). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.