I'm sure you'll be aware of one of the most well known parables of Christ Jesus, that of the Good Samaritan. But if not, the story goes something like this. A traveller is beaten up by robbers and left half dead; 2 religious zealots fail to stop to help him but, totally unexpectedly, a guy from a despised people group shows kindness and compassion towards him, thus proving to be his true 'neighbour'.
But then, I wonder if you've also heard another version going the rounds. This is where a couple of social workers encounter the same guy lying on the road, and one says to the other... 'Whoever beat this guy up really needs help!'
Now I'm sure I don't need to explain what this joke is about and having served as a local authority social worker for many years this attitude has an element of authenticity about it which rings rather uncomfortably true to me.
But the other day I heard another example from what seems to me to be our 'topsy-turvy' world, a summary of which is as follows...
Back in the 1980's a baby was born in the USA with an extremely defective heart.
It was expected to live no more than a few days. The medics knew that only a new heart would give the child a chance of life. But where could they find a heart small enough? Well, to cut to the chase, they transplanted the heart of a baboon, which seemed just the right size. But this action caused an almighty ethical furore.
And when I heard this bit of the story I thought to myself, yes, of course,
so it should have. After all, was it right to transplant the heart of an animal into
a human being? Whilst the baby's life was precious, was it morally correct to seemingly tamper with God's Creation in this way? What would He make of this?
But, to my considerable shock I discovered my assumption to be completely WRONG. The controversial hiatus was caused not by the Christian community... but by the animal welfare people... championing
the rights of the baboon!
The postscript to this sorry incident however was that sadly the baby lived for
only a further 19 days. But when the post mortem was carried out the heart was found to be working perfectly well and to this day the medics are still unsure as to the actual cause of death. My own conclusion is that God, who holds the key to all life and death, reckoned that a line had been crossed by this.
But then in our topsy-turvy world, most in our society have also got something else totally wrong... mankind's greatest problem, and God's unique remedy. Yes, how easy it is to consider Christ Jesus to be little more than simply an historical figure, an outstanding leader, a good moral teacher etc... etc... But as HG Mackay once wrote...
'If a loving God had seen that our greatest problem was poverty,
He would have sent a wealthy philanthropist to evenly distribute the world's resources; or an economist to wisely oversee the distribution of the world's wealth. If the paramount problem had been lack of learning, He would have sent an educationalist or philosopher. But because our deepest, direst and deadliest problem was sin, God sent a SAVIOUR!'
'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners...'