A reader of the Direct Application New Testament sent us some questions about specific situations that make for good blog entries. So we'll plough through seven questions in a few blog entries.
Today I'll do just one...I was planning more, but this weekend I developed an infection in a finger on my right hand that is making typing difficult. So it is possible the Ticker may take some time off until that issue is resolved. Fortunately I typed this part up on Saturday before all that happened. :P
Good Samaritan--How would this teaching apply to helping homeless people on the street? What about helping people on the side of the road, say, in terms of changing a tire, or picking up a hitchhiker (even when potentially dangerous)?
Modern life has complicated this one in many ways. Homeless people are often homeless by choice, rather than (as would be the case in the first century) because they have no choice. There are also a multitude of social services available for the homeless. And yes, we have those dangers as well; a homeless person today may as well stick a shank in you as thank you. Same with helping people on the road.
I would say our best options these days are:
For the homeless, provide and have available the social service organizations needed for them to get back on their feet, get a meal, and have a clean bed. But do that with the admonition that those who do not work, do not eat. The goal should be to reintegrate such people into society, not provide them with a series of handouts again and again so that they can live perpetually on the dole. Indeed, allowing that would also rob us of resources for those who are needy and wish to recover.
On the road, it might be good for churches to have roadside assistance ministries -- though some of our interstates (in Florida at least) have that already. In light of danger, I'd say we should help those with a flat tire in person, if we feel safe enough doing so (e.g., by a major highway, but not on some lonely road; if we are a 250 lb muscular person with lots of company and a gun vs being a petite 125 lber who is traveling alone). Otherwise, offer to get them help either with a cell phone call to a service dealer, or by stopping at the next service center to send help. Of course the advent of cell phones has made this one also become less frequently necessary.
Hitchhiking is actually illegal in most states, including Florida, which would means we'd be encouraging lawbreaking by picking someone up. See link below. So this one has become moot. But, it might apply to giving someone a ride in other circumstances, and in that case, the same admonitions regarding safety I just noted above also apply.