Monday, 22 June 2009
Jesus told a story about a man who while travelling was attacked and seriously injured. As he was lying by the side of road a religious leader – someone who had spent many years studying the Bible – came along, but seeing the man he crossed to the other side of the road and left him there.
A little later a another person passed by, someone who might well be described as being “pillar of their church community” who came from a family with a long and impressive history of religious involvement. But he also left the man laying there to die.
Finally a member of an obscenely heretical cult came along. Having no respect for the plain meaning of Scripture, he was part of a group directly responsible for the nation’s downfall, it’s moral decline, and growing decline in respect for all that God had revealed in His holy Word. Yet this blasphemer went to the help of the injured man; treating his wounds he took him to somewhere he might recuperate, and then personally guaranteed the man’s medical bills while ensuring the man would be fully cared for until completely recovered.
At the end of the story Jesus asked his undoubtedly disconcerted audience “Who do you think was a neighbour to the man who was attacked?”. Which, at least in the vernacular of the community in which I live, could well be rephrased as “Who was a friend to him?”.
The people in my blogroll, as well as many of those who regularly comment both here and elsewhere around the traps, are people whom I proud to consider friends. Some of them I know personally, others live on the other side of the world and I’ve only every communicated with them via blog comments and email. Some of them I only know through regularly lurking at their sites – but all of them have in some way inspired me, given me courage to keep seeking God at times when it all seems too hard, and all I'd really like to do is toss away this whole crazy notion of wrestling with what it means to takes one’s eyes off the gutter and instead reach for the stars.
Not all of them are Anglican; at least one’s an active atheist, and one is actually a whole bunch of people who run a dog shelter. Some are gay, some are straight, and all of them need to love and be loved. More than a few have also struggled with the darkness of mental illness, and one wears his madness as a badge of pride in a way not dissimilar (although I suspect he’ll be appalled by the comparison ;-) to the way St. Paul boasted of his own weakness as proof of God’s redemptive mercy.
Sometimes they make what I think are mistakes – a few much more often than others - and when I disagree with them strongly enough I always make a point of contacting them personally to see if I can help bring them back into line. Sometimes they agree with me, more often than not they explain their side of the issue and we meet somewhere in the middle, and sometimes they show me why I’m the one who’s got things wrong. Whatever happens, they are my friends, and I know that when I fall down – albeit as a result of being attacked, or (more likely) my own folly – they’ll help me to shelter and safety. As I’ll do for them – irrespective of how much we resemble each other theologically.
Occasionally one or the other of them is truly obnoxious, just as sometimes my dogs are capable of releasing the most utterly foul flatulence imaginable. Yet even then I still love them: sometimes we all react unpredictably to the things we’ve digested. When I’ve finally managed to deal with the log in my own eye I’ll be able to get around to doing something about the speck in theirs.
What I’ll never do apologise for them. They’re my friends – even if they are Samaritans.
Posted by Alcibiades at 11:33:00 AM