Bob Tamasy: The ‘Good Samaritan’ And Racism

Monday, August 12, 2013 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

From time to time we hear about “good Samaritans,” individuals performing unusual acts of kindness – assisting a motorist with a problem on the highway, rescuing someone from a burning building, donating an anonymous gift to someone in need.

But in our increasingly secularized society, fewer people know where the good Samaritan concept began. Spoiler alert: It’s from the Bible.

Luke 10:25-37 tells about Jesus’ encounter with religious leaders that challenged Him. One leader, “an expert in the law,” cited the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” and then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the story of the good Samaritan.

In the account, robbers had beaten a man on the highway between Jerusalem and Jericho. Two Jewish leaders of high standing – a priest and a Levite – saw the injured man, but instead of stopping to help, moved to the other side of the road and continued on their way.

It was a Samaritan – a man from Samaria – who not only stopped to assist the injured person and tend to his wounds, but also found a place where he could stay and recover. Hence, the good Samaritan.

But there’s an element to this story many people don’t grasp: At least in one respect, it’s about racism. In those days there was intense animosity between Jews and Samaritans on ethnic, cultural and religious grounds. The Samaritans, whose origins traced to the same Jewish lineage, had intermarried with Gentiles to create a mixed race, greatly despised by the Jews.

So when Jesus noted two of the Jewish elite had taken “the high road” rather than get involved in a victim’s plight, and instead it was a hated Samaritan who performed the act of compassion, it must have stung His confronters.

Had Jesus told this parable in modern terms, it might have been a black man that stopped to assist a wounded Ku Klux Klan member. Talk about turning prejudice upside-down.

Some years ago I was meeting with a young African-American man in a Bible study and he asked, “Bob, if Jesus were to appear and stand in front of me, would He see a black man?” What a great question!

Thankfully, I had recently been doing some reading related to this subject, so we looked at Galatians 3:28, which states, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” As the apostle Paul pointed out, God does not distinguish according to race, ethnicity, gender or social standing.

I also related to my friend what the Old Testament says about how God does see people: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

In the gospel of John, Jesus demonstrated His opposition to the racism of His day in another way. He and the disciples were passing through Samaria, and Jesus defied cultural norms by talking to a Samaritan woman – the “woman at the well” – and asking her for a cup of water. In fact, the woman expressed her own astonishment. “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9).

This encounter might not seem like a big deal today, but in Jesus’ day – both in terms of race and gender – it was unprecedented.

We find ourselves in an environment more racially charged than it’s been in years, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Prejudice means to pre-judge, usually according to external factors: skin color, race, gender, tall or short, slender or stocky. But that’s not how God sees people. He looks at the heart – the persons we are on the inside.

As followers of Christ – female or male, white, black, Asian, Hispanic or whatever – we need to ask the Lord for His discernment so that we no longer “look at the outward appearance” but as He did, “look at the heart.”

Racism can cut both ways: Prejudice isn’t just white toward black, Latino, Asian, or Middle Eastern. Anyone can pre-judge another, ascribing motivations and making assumptions based solely on the other person’s complexion or external “look.” We must seek to understand not only the hearts of the people we encounter, but our own hearts as well. Who are we pre-judging – and why?

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Times Are A Changing Quickly Is Topic At Middle Valley COG

Middle Valley Church of God announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, 'Times Are A Changing, Quickly! '  in the 10:30 a.m. service on Sunday.    Pastor McClure will lead the congregation in a time of prayer and worship on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.  All are invited to participate in this event.  Each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Sunday school classes ... (click for more)

North Georgia Church Exceeds School Supply Goal, Expands To 3 Schools

Rock Bridge Community Church has surpassed its goal of providing all school supplies for the 472 children at Roan Elementary School and has now committed to providing resources to two additional schools this fall through its Summer Bag Pack initiative.   Tony Helton, Rock Bridge’s Dalton Campus Pastor, says the church began working toward the initial goal in June.  Congregants ... (click for more)

Man Jumped Into River To Escape Robbers Who Killed His Wife At Renaissance Park; Tyree Corley Arrested In Shooting Death Of Kathy Hardy

A man told police he jumped into the Tennessee River to escape from robbers who killed his wife at Renaissance Park early Sunday morning, July 16. Tyree Tichion Corley, 22, of 3810 Sherwood Lane, has been charged with felony murder and especially aggravated robbery in the fatal shooting of Kathy Hardy. Corley is in custody at the Hamilton County Jail.  Shawn Hardy said ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Schools To Close Aug. 21 For Solar Eclipse

Due to safety concerns, Hamilton County Schools will close all schools and school age childcare on Aug. 21. This date coincides with the first total solar eclipse to occur across the entire continental United States in 99 years. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, and casts its shadow on the Earth below. The eclipse will reach totality ... (click for more)

Children Should Not Get Holiday For Solar Eclipse

Re: County Schools to close for the solar eclipse: What a waste of an educational opportunity. The local folks in-charge of the Hamilton County, Tn., school system just announced that they are going to cancel school on Aug. 21 the day of the eclipse.  To protect the children from being on the school bus during the time of the eclipse.  It will be dark and other ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jake, A Great Man

When Bob McKamey was 18 years old, the late Hitch Grimes came home on furlough from the Marine Corps and brought a handsome, energetic friend with him, Jake Butcher. “That was 64 years ago and that’s when it started, one of the greatest friendships of my life. Talking about Jake is like picking up a book with 1,000 pages and opening it to a random page. Only you can hardly put it ... (click for more)