September 11, 2013: Go and Do Likewise

~by Louis Templeman

As a young member of a zealous Evangelical church I was often exhorted on the “Go ye” passage of Matthew 28: 19: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations . . . .” The preacher would taunt us for our lethargic evangelizing, “Did he say, Stay ye? Did he say, Sit down ye? Or, Be too shy ye? No!” he would shout, loud enough to scare the pigeons off the telephone lines outside, “he said, Go!”

I rather doubt that much of what I did in response to this pressure fulfilled the intentions of the Savior’s command. I now realize this command is more appropriate for and specific to those gifted with the grace to preach, lead, organize and shepherd. Most of us are better suited to live out our witness as our statement of faith. There is, however, a “Go, ye” command that is more universal in its application.

In Jesus’ story which we refer to as the parable of the Good Samaritan we discover a helpless, beaten victimized man who is ignored by very respectable religious men. Men of good education, moral discipline and proper doctrine. The beaten man is rescued by a man who is improperly educated and discipled. A man who is a heretic.

This unnamed humble hero is a despised Samaritan. He chose to help a man who in better health and circumstances would have hated him. He could have seen this helpless beaten man as his enemy. Instead he chose to perform a simple, hidden act of kindness that through the words of the Lord became a shining and eternal example of love. Of this Samaritan’s actions Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

He did not say “do likewise” of the man who followed all the rules. He did not say “do likewise” of the man with unblemished doctrine. Nor of the man with thousands of memorized Scripture verses. Nor of the man faithful in his rigid self-discipline.

Jesus said, “Go and do likewise,” of the man who saw the mugging victim not as an enemy who had it coming to him but as a brother and a hurting child of God. Jesus is not opposed to moral discipline or good doctrine. However, by themselves they are worthless. It is kindness, humble service and love that he calls exemplary.

Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D.

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