Years ago, our neighborhood was blasted with approximately eighteen inches of snow: worst storm in many years. I was stranded at home but it was nice to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Peace and quiet, ended when I decided to shovel our driveway, which is rather long but doesn’t usually present a problem. I have a nifty tool called a snow slider that pushes snow out of the way. My little gadget is fast and easy to use for two to three inches of snow but when I placed the slider in front of this pile and pushed, then pushed again, nothing moved. “Oh, no!” (Hmmm, not my exact words.)
So, I grabbed a snow shovel and started digging and digging and digging some more until I was standing over the shovel, panting, out of breath.
Did I mention there were eighteen inches of snow?
I finally managed to clear a small path and took a break. Several hours later, I tried again, made more progress and took another break. At this rate, I would be shoveling snow until July.
Then, there was a knock on my door.
Across the street, a neighbor purchased a snow blower, but never used it. Today, he needed it and managed to clear his driveway within minutes. He was having so much fun, he decided to take his blower over to help another neighbor. This neighbor was so grateful; he pitched in and they both went to help someone else. By the time they came to my driveway there was a whole crew, cleaning driveways, drinking coffee, sharing stories and basically having a grand old time.
Within a few short hours, we had a cluster of houses with clean driveways. More importantly, neighbors started crossing over to visit and say thanks. Soon people were going back and forth giving away cookies, coffee, soup and whatever was needed. Others started coming outside to talk and play in the snow.
Often, our very best witness as Christians is simply how we respond in a crisis.
The neighbor who took the initiative to use his snow blower and clean people’s driveways, likely accomplished more to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ then all the sermons I could preach in a year.
In the story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10) Jesus illustrates how a lawyer and preacher in their busyness pass right on by the victim of a vicious robbery. A Samaritan who in the eyes of the local people is definitely, “lower class” does the right thing by stopping and helping the hapless stranger. A man despised by the social community is held up by Jesus as a hero and the standard of Godly faithfulness.
Yet again, God teaches a powerful lesson while doing a simple task. The lawyer and the preacher said all the right words, but the lowly Samaritan practiced what some only preach. All of us in the neighborhood could have cleared our own driveway but most of us would finish the chore feeling cranky and miserable. Instead, our good Samaritan offered a helping hand and taught the true meaning of “hospitality at work.”
Here is the best part – rather than ending up cranky and miserable, we were smiling, laughing and freely sharing our resources. In the midst of shoveling snow, we became a true community of faith. While experiencing a crisis, we discovered the joy of helping others.
Isn’t this what being the church is supposed to be all about?
In fact, if more of us made a commitment to actually be “good Samaritans” rather than simply reading about or talking about “good Samaritans” what would happen? Here is my prediction: Our churches would be full to overflowing. So, here is my prayer today: “God, help me to practice what I preach and be more like the Samaritan and help someone today. Amen.”