“What If We’re Asking the Wrong Question”
“But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
– Luke 10:29
A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about an experience I had with my son declaring “Hello Neighbor” as we were trying to go to sleep. In that devotional, we examined the exact question the law expert posed to Jesus in Luke. Who is my neighbor? As I’ve been praying about what to write to you today, God kept bringing my mind back to a fictional book I read a few years back.
“A List of Cages” is one of the toughest books I’ve ever read, not because of the style of writing, but because of how hauntingly real the characters, and the situations, are. The book is told from the perspective of two high school students: a freshman (Julian) who tragically lost his parents as a young child, and a senior (Adam) whose family at one time was the foster family for the other narrator. After a distant relative is found, Julian is taken away from Adam’s family, and our two narrators have no contact. Years later, they are reunited by chance, and Adam invites Julian into his group of friends. Slowly each of the friends begins to realize something is not right in Julian’s life, and they each begin taking steps to understand what is happening.
Again, this is one of the toughest books I’ve ever read. It deals with loss, abuse, and the guilt of being a bystander. There are plenty of books that deal with this, but reading dual accounts of the same events, one from a victim and the other from someone who desperately wants to help is tough. It becomes even more heartbreaking when you realize this was written by an adolescent counselor and is based on real experiences.
This book isn’t filled with only hopelessness, though. It symbolizes one of the incredible shifts that can be experienced by asking the right question. This group of older students doesn’t ask “Is this younger kid my neighbor,” but instead ask “Is it in my power to help,” What if that is the question we are supposed to ask? Is it in my power to help?
Think about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Was it in the priest’s power to help? Was it in the Levite’s power to help? Yes to both, but neither took the time. The Samaritan, on the other hand, realized it was in his power to help, then went above and beyond what was needed. He didn’t ask if the man in need was his neighbor, but simply saw a man in need.
How different would our world be if we each began asking “Is it in my power to help,” instead of trying to determine who our neighbor is?
Pray: God, thank You for loving me and sending Your son to die for me. Help me see a chance to serve when it is in my power to help.
First Baptist Broken Arrow