The Child in the Road

“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.”
Luke 10:33

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is an incredible story that is esteemed yet often passed over as a simple platitude. The phrase “good samaritan” is used commonly in our vernacular to refer to someone who acts kindly to a person they don’t know. Those of you who’ve taken a CPR/First Aid class are familiar with Good Samaritan Laws. Unfortunately, when we reduce the moral of this story to a mere “be nice to strangers” we miss out on its substance.

Jesus intends this story as a means to confront those who, in self-righteousness, want to excuse themselves from spontaneous selflessness. As in most of Jesus’ teachings, He is aiming to affect the heart, not merely the actions. He’s teaching us that our neighbor is anyone in our path who is in need of practical mercy. If we walk by someone who is innocently suffering without helping them, we’ve proved that our hearts are wicked and distant from God. That kind of disregard for injustice is not befitting for those who claim to know the Messiah. Instead, God is redeeming a people who will jump at the opportunity to serve the exploited. Positively, He wants us to delight in bending down to bring others up for that is where He, Himself, finds joy (see Heb. 12:2).

One of the struggles we’re seeing in conservative, evangelical churches is a lack of tenacity to help suffering people. Sure a church may feed homeless folks around holidays, do a backpack drive at the end of summer, or host a VBS. Enduring charity, however, is an afterthought. We check-off our cultural engagement responsibility by lobbying against homosexual marriage and abortion. But, in large part, we don’t embrace the marginalized in our society. We don’t take any effort to address the systemic problems which lead to poverty, drug addiction, abuse, and exploitation. If we love the Gospel of grace then what excuse do we have for not lending a hand to these folks? Jesus explains in Matthew 25:31-46 that on Judgment Day our reception of Him will be measured by our care for those in need. We have an obligation that’s driven by joy in the Gospel and an understanding of eternal consequence.

I’m praying that a shift comes and I don’t want to be overly negative, we are seeing the tides change. It’s glorious to see the Gospel causing God’s people to show practical mercy! And yet, as in everything, we want to see more.

I’d like to take a moment to outline a way that you can embrace persons in our society who are in need of your sustained charity. Allow me to put a child in your road that you must either inconvenience yourself to help or pass by on the other side.

Kids in foster care find themselves caught in a traumatic situation through no fault of their own. It’s the poverty, addictions, negligence, and abusiveness of others that is responsible for their induction into this poorly-run government system. When kids exit the system without a family the stats aren’t good. Within four years of their emancipation 50% won’t have a high school diploma or GED, 25% will be homeless, 42% will have children of their own, and they will suffer PTSD at twice the rate of US combat veterans.*

Do you know what would prevent these things from defining children that emancipate from foster care? The love, support, and acceptance of a family. You can throw all the incentives and programs at these kids but unless they find a family, their chances of thriving are slim. Here they are suffering while in foster care and then becoming a drain on society because their greatest, practical need is missing. Kids need families and these kids don’t have them.

So, let me ask an honest question. What will you do about it? You don’t have to have all the answers but your heart needs to cry out “I want to find a way to help!” If you’re sensing that then please let me know (e-mail me: dsmetona@childshare.org). I’d be overjoyed to help you find a way to serve. If you’re a parent, then consider taking in a child. If you can’t parent then let’s talk about creative ways you can encourage parents to get involved or find a way to volunteer. Whatever it is, please don’t pass by these kids on the side of the road. Display to them the love, acceptance, and mercy you’ve found in Christ.

May God bless your efforts to make much of Him by giving freely of yourself!

For His glory and fame,
Dustin

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*Annie E. Casey Foundation – click here for the report.

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Satisfaction for Free

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.”

Isaiah 55:1-2

These two verses are part of a plea that God is making to His people.  If you go back to chapter 54 you’ll see Him explain the reason behind their upcoming suffering. The LORD tells them in verses 7-8, “For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you.” Their unfaithfulness has led to a momentary disciplining. He reminds them that “my steadfast love will never depart from you” in verse 10 though they certainly will struggle to sense it while in exile.

Once God has completed His explanation and assured them that He will never waver in His commitment to them, we find ourselves at the beginning of chapter 55. In this passage God is agonizing over their decision to continually find satisfaction elsewhere: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” Can you sense God’s desperate plea in these verses? He wants so bad for His people to be extremely pleased and contented with Him.

Now personalize that reality. Do you grasp how immensely God wants you to be overwhelmingly satisfied with Him?! He wants you to be absolutely enthralled with His love. We spend so much time, energy and money to find satisfaction while God offers it at absolutely no charge: “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Do you know why He offers it to so freely? Your satisfaction has already been paid for.

By washing away your sins and restoring your relationship with God, Jesus has secured your pleasure. You can enjoy the wine of God’s love because He has removed your sinfulness and granted you the righteousness which He requires for those would would come into His presence. And “in [God’s] presence there is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). All you need for everlasting joy is to be near God and to be able to say “for a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Ps. 84:10). Enter freely through the Door, Jesus Christ, into the joy of your Master!

May you find satisfaction and joy as you experience God’s presence now and look forward to the full disclosure which is coming.

For His glory and fame,
Dustin