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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Can you help a ‘brotha’ out?

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25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

(Luke 10:25-28 KJ)

The meaning of compassion for all practical purposes is love in action. It is more than quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” and Leviticus 19:18 “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.”

It is more than belonging to a church and sitting in a pew. It is more than corporate worship or private devotion. It is more than empathy or sympathy because sympathy says, “I’m sorry,” empathy says, “I feel you,” but compassion says, “I’ll help you whatever your race, color, or creed.” We learned that our neighbor is not just next door, but anyone in need. The lawyer viewed the wounded man as a topic of discussion; the thieves viewed the beaten man as an object to exploit, the priest viewed the half dead man as a problem to avoid, and the temple assistant viewed the victim as an object of curiosity.

It took a Samaritan, a so-called mongrel or mixed race person, part Jew and part someone else. It took the despised, the rejected, and the half-breed to show us how to love our neighbor and Jesus said, “it is going to cost us something.” It will cost us more than money. Compassion requires getting off your horse so to speak, your position, your pride (racial or otherwise) and touching the problem and risking the consequences.

And so it is with the health care debate. Health care for all of God’s children is not debatable for a Christian. It is a moral imperative. It is an issue of compassion. I have found that the only people opposing universal health care are those who already have it. Some say we cannot afford it as a nation but I believe the cost does not compare to the loss of lives that result from 47 million people uninsured and 5 million of them are children. Sixty people die everyday because they cannot afford insurance. Sixty people died yesterday, 60 people died today, and 60 people will die tomorrow. And 22,000 will die by the end of the year. Let’s take politics out and put compassion in. The Good Samaritan is in all of us. It will cost us but what will it cost if we do not respond. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., once said of this story: “I do not ask what will happen to me if I help this wounded man but what will happen to him if I don’t.” Write Congressman Andre Carson and Senator Evan Bayh today. Pray for our president.

The thieves believe what you have is mine.  Religion believes what I have is mine.  Christians believe what I have belongs to you too.  What do you believe?  Can you help a “brotha” out?

You may write to Dr. Benjamin at Bishop@lightoftheworld.org or at Light of the World Christian Church, 4646 N. Michigan Road, Indianapolis, IN 46228. My book, It’s All In Your Mind, can be ordered at www.tombenjamin.com or by calling (800) 847-9695.

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