Home > Opinion > God’s help comes in surprising ways

God’s help comes in surprising ways

By Steve Drinkall, Manager, Mission Engagement Synod Support Services

The story of the Good Samaritan is possibly one of the best-known stories of the bible.  This story came about originally after a lawyer approached Jesus and asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”.  Jesus responds with a fairly standard answer of “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind”, and to “Love your neighbour as yourself”.   The lawyer thought that this was a good answer but wanted to push further and so he asked, “And who is my neighbour?”.

Instead of answering any further, Jesus tells them this story and invites his Jewish listeners to figure it out for themselves by empathising with one of the characters.  The story itself can be read in Luke 10:25-37, but it basically involves a man who gets beaten up on the side of the road and thrown in a ditch.  The man is obviously in need of help and three people walk past.  One is a priest, one is a Levite and the third is a Samaritan person (who were the sworn enemies of Jesus’ Jewish listeners).  As you know, in the end it is the Samaritan who unexpectedly stops and cares for the injured man and most acts like a neighbour.  

You could walk down the street of almost any city in Australia and find people who would know this story and also know roughly what the message of the story was.  They would tell you that the moral of the story is that you should stop to help people in need, even if they are people you wouldn’t normally associate with.  Or in other words, we have heard the message that we should not be like the priest or the Levite but to instead be like the good Samaritan.  Recently I saw this clip by Mark Allen-Powell where he went to Tanzania and heard people preaching there about the story of the Good Samaritan.  To his great surprise the meaning of the Parable there was taught as ‘God helps us in very surprising ways’.  They didn’t see it primarily as a call to help others but rather as a call to accept the help of God in whatever surprising form it arrives.  The Tanzanian’s had not identified and empathised with the helper in the story but had instead identified most with the guy who was beaten up and desperately in need of help.  You can hear Mark Allen Powell describe it much better than me here in this short 7 min video.  A Surprising Twist on the Parable of the Good Samaritan – Seedbed

I guess my main take away from this insight is that we often approach the bible with a view to figuring out exactly what it means.  We READ the bible but sometimes we need to let the bible READ us.  There is often great value in empathising with different characters and using our imagination to place ourselves in the stories themselves and ask some different questions from their perspective.  I wonder if this week you are sensing God calling you to help someone you find in a ditch, or whether God is asking you to keep an eye out for help coming from even the most surprising of places.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *