"And who is my neighbor?" an expert of the law asks in fury, annoyed with Jesus' message and behavior that frustrates every notion of conventional "righteousness" (Luke 10:29). Jesus embarks on one of his breathtaking stories about a man, a "righteous" man, apparently the hero of the narrative, suddenly transformed into the "enemy," replaced by a new hero, a Samaritan, an "unrighteous" man. New Testament scholars have pointed out that in this story, the man called to love his enemy is not the Samaritan, but actually the man who lay wounded, stripped of his clothes, half dead. For he, rather than the Samaritan, is the character in the story with whom Jesus' audience would have been able to identify. By inviting the wounded to accept to be helped by his conventional enemy, Jesus calls every one of us to accept to be helped by God, the "outcast," whom we have rejected.
I was overwhelmingly surprised by the responses I got the last two days from people who had read my Christianity Today article. Most were grateful for an alternative voice to what they usually read and hear. I write this text at the closing of a weekend spent responding individually to most of nearly a hundred emails that I got.
David Gushee's gracious response also, in his "Open Letter to Dr. Martin Accad" that Christianity Today published, gives me the desire to be picked up from the roadside despite my wounds. At the end of this weekend I have more hope, because I have discovered life in a part of the church's heart that I had thought dead. Thanks, David, and thank you to the new friends I have made.
If so many in the church in the U.S. actually care enough to listen and respond to a Middle Eastern Arab Christian cry, then perhaps there is enough hope, will and ...