I was raised to be prejudiced.
My parents, poor rural Southerners of the Depression Era, were NOT filled with hate. That’s not usually what prejudice is about. These good Christian folk were simply dismissive of large groups of people – thinking them incapable of basic human competency and decency. And my parents thought I should share their sensibilities.
When the Hippies of the 60s came along, my parents lumped them into the same human debris field into which they had tossed Blacks, Mexicans, and other ethnic minorities. My dad, in particular, despised long hair. He’d spew and spit, everything except curse, when a long-haired, maggot-infested, commy-type Hippie would come on the TV screen.
I can’t imagine the heart attack my dad would have had if he’d seen that Hippie fairy Elton John
Before we get to that, let’s listen to this Word from our obviously crew cut and freshly showered Sponsor:
Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
What we miss in this story is the prejudice and racism that is dripping all over this story. Jews were prejudiced – often to the core. They despised Samaritans. Almost worse than a “different” ethnic group, Samaritans were half-breeds. Half Jew, doubly contemptible. So Jesus gouged at the Jews, suggesting that if even a half-breed embraced the dignity of his fellow man, why did the “children of Abraham” not understand it?
Before our Holier-Than-Thou finger clicks off the TV, let’s catch this incredibly humble comment from Leon. (You need to watch the whole thing to understand what Elton John had done for Leon Russell, but key in on 7:06 to 7:50)
If you can’t devote the time to the video, here’s what Leon says:
“About a year ago, Elton [John] came and found me in the ditch at the side of the highway of life. He took me up to the high stages with big audiences and treated me like a king. And the only thing I can say is ‘Bless your heart’. Also I want to say thank you very much. I appreciate it very much… and [leaning into the mic] Hallelujah.”
That Sodom & Gomorrah-loving, godless homosexual, Hippie Elton John looked with compassion on the man “in the ditch at the side of the highway of life” and he did something about it! I don’t know anything about either man’s salvation, but I promise you this much, Jesus is patting His Dad on the shoulder saying, “That’s what I was talking about!”
“Go and do the same.”
I have spoken previously about being generous. I hope you’ll consider how you can bless others. But I also want my readers to carefully consider how to step over prejudice, or any other form of reluctance, and do something that radically changes someone’s life.
Your home church, or, if you don’t attend one regularly, any church near you, has a laundry list of people who are on the brink or over the edge. They know who needs rent paid while they go to detox. They know who’s about to lose their home or apartment and spiral into long-term holiness. They know people who are borderline suicidal for lack of friendship and compassion. They know who’s home is unfit for human occupation due to some easily remedied problems.
It is easy, and occasionally correct, to assume that people are “in the ditch” by their own fault. So what? Did Jesus tell His parable to stress personal safety? Is the moral of the story ‘don’t travel alone’ or ‘always carry American Express’? “They had it coming” is the laziest form of prejudice. You just can’t be lazy, you can’t be prejudiced and do the great work Jesus calls us to.
“Go and do the same.”
And just maybe someday someone will look at you and tearfully, humbly say, “Hallelujah”.
Clark H Smith