Where is the Good Samaritan today?
(pssst…You may be disappointed if you look at church!)
The Biblical account of the Good Samaritan is pretty well known. Even those who don’t attend church could probably give a fair summation of what a Good Samaritan is. We’ve all heard stories on the news about someone or even a group of people, who without selfish motivation give of their time, resources, money and sometimes even their lives to help total strangers.
Recently some individuals in dire need, in crisis actually, sought financial assistance from the church community and the results were, well judge for yourself.
On person was experiencing financial hardship due to several unforeseen occurrences. Family emergencies, medical expenses, even the dog got sick which resulted in several hundred dollars being paid to the vet.
This individual asked their church for financial help and was told no, and was then questioned as to why she waited for things to get so bad before seeking assistance. In total shock and disbelief she stated that she was a member of that church for the past year and gave tithes and offerings. She told them she had a job and was more than willing to pay the money back. She explained that she’d moved to that city a year ago , had no family there and the church was her last hope. The person at church prayed for her that “God would move things in her favor and place the right people in her path to aid her” and sent her on her way. A frantic call was placed to another church member who “knew people” in the congregation and this person told the woman to “go back and try again, this time you’ll get a different result.” She did and the church managed to come up with $340.00 to assist her with a $1,900.00 financial need.
One might think that this person attended a very small congregation which probably struggles to keep its doors open and genuinely had little to no resources to aid their member. The truth is, this person attends a mega church in Houston, Texas, a church where tens of thousands of people attend every week. Just think, thousands of people tithing and giving offerings and buying books and CD’s and DVD’s. That isn’t to mention the money that comes in from the television viewership and the books at retail outlets ranging from Barnes & Noble to WalMart.
Similarly, a person sought financial assistance from a mega church in Atlanta whose pastor, like the pastor in Houston preaches prosperity, abundance, divine favor, being an heir to wealth and riches, promotion and breakthrough. This person has a serious medical condition which affects their ability to work (they are not receiving disability yet) and after exhausting all of their own resources was facing eviction.
A call was placed asking for help, stating that they were in dire need. The church said no, they don’t assist people outside of Atlanta, but “we’ll pray for you.” (Excuse me? They certainly accept tithes and donations from people outside of Atlanta.) So the person from church proceeded to ask God to intervene on this person’s behalf and prayed that God would place the right people in their path to help them. The person in need pleaded for help and explained that while they didn’t live in Atlanta, they watched this particular pastor on T.V. every day for more than a year and had been tithing to that church from the resources that they did have. This was their church home, could they please help. Again the answer was no, but the woman at church suggested that this person and their child bunk with a friend, perhaps even someone they might know from school.
The person in need pleadingly said, ” I’m knocking on the door of God’s house and you’re tuning me away.” The woman at church said, “I’m not turning you away.”
Let me see, if someone knocks at my door, tells me they are hungry and asks for food, I have food, in fact more than enough food, food that was donated to me by the generosity of others no less, yet I refuse to feed this person, but mind you, I pray that God will place the right person in his path to aid him, and send him on his way hungry, saying perhaps someone else will feed you, is that not turning that person away?
One more case if you can stand it. A woman who has, according to doctors, a very serious (as in potentially life threatening) and very aggressive, incurable disease sought help from various churches in her own community. She wasn’t looking for a hand out, she works from home and has a product that would be both practical and beneficial in youth ministry. This person explained that she was in need of specialized medical care for this rare disease and had been experiencing difficulty getting the care she needs due to the limitations of her insurance and lack of experienced doctors in her area. She approached the churches explaining that she wanted to earn the money she needed for herself and her daughter. Several letters went out, mostly to large churches with memberships of several hundred to a thousand or more, since it’s more likely that they would have some sort of youth ministry.
One church responded. One church had the compassion to make a donation of $100.00 to assist her. None of the others even bothered to say “we’ll pray for you.”
So is this what Jesus meant when He taught about the Good Samaritan? The Samaritan who wholeheartedly, not half-heartedly helped someone who was not only a total stranger, but of a different race, and since the Samaritan was traveling, obviously the person he assisted was not from his own community. Please note also, the Samaritan spent his own personal money and was willing to pay even more if necessary to make sure this man was cared for. Luke 10:25-37
Or is this what Jesus meant when He said that wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing would enter the church and not treat the flock with tenderness?
This certainly isn’t an example of loving your neighbor as yourself, sense some of these pastors live in mansions and drive super expensive cars such as Rolls Royce, have planes etc. in part, as a result of contributions and the reselling of Gods Word.
Granted, some churches will boast that they are helping impoverished people in other countries and they’ll show footage of their good works. But how do you turn away people who turn to you for spiritual enlightenment and who support your ministry with what they have, little though it may be?
Further, how can a church, which professes to be God’s house turn anyone away, member or not? I don’t remember Jesus’ instruction “to love your neighbor as yourself” bearing a caveat that states, “but only if they are long standing local members of the church, are consistent tithers, give generous offerings, are timely in first fruit donations or if by giving to them you get to pat yourself on the back and make a showy display of your giving.”
The fact of the matter is, these churches receive their money by sticking their hand out and asking people for money. Or they make their money by selling books, CD’s and DVD’s which, if Bible based are a repeat of God’s own words, the teachings from scripture aren’t anything new, they’ve been handed down for centuries.
It seems some churches want you to exercise faith that God will intervene and come to the rescue, just so long as you’re not looking to the church to do the rescuing. The next time they ask for money, perhaps we should say I’ll pray for you. I’ll pray that God puts the right people in your path to assist you and who can meet your needs. If it’s good enough for them to say, it should be good enough to be said back.
Having said all of this, please note, it is not my wish to denigrate all churches. Many are actively helping their members stay in their homes and even offer debt cancellation programs within the church. There are pastors who know their flock by name and personally respond when there is a crisis. It just seems you have to look far and wide to find pastors and churches that function like that.