I was astounded to read this week about the tow truck driver from South Carolina who refused to help a woman whose car had broken down on the side of the road, simply because she had a Bernie sticker on the bumper of her car. Seriously?
When did it become more important to score a point politically than to show compassion to someone in need?
I kept reading, thinking, “Please, may he not claim to be a Christian.”
But sure enough, Ken Shupe, a 51-year-old from Travelers Rest, South Carolina, spoke up about his principles. “I’m a conservative Christian, I’ve just drawn a line in the sand,” he said. “I’m not going to associate or conduct business with them.”
With them. Wow. And it gets worse. It turns out the young woman he refused to help was disabled and suffered some serious health conditions and truly needed help after her car was hit and wouldn’t start. His response as he drove off was “You can call the government for a tow.” Unbelievable. And we wonder why people think Christians are judgmental and hateful. That is pure meanness for the sake of chalking one up against “the liberals.” It is blatant judgment of a whole group of people rather than really seeing this one young woman in need, standing right in front of him. She is not a group, she is a person. She is not the enemy. And even if she were, Jesus had a story or two about that. Like this one, from Luke 10:
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
About halfway through this post I realized I’m doing the same thing as the tow truck driver. In judging him for not being compassionate, I’ve become just like him! God help me, and help us all. It’s the human condition, and the thing we most need saving from: ourselves and our small ego minds, always weighing and comparing, especially when we feel we are in the right.
The rule of the day to live by from Richard Rohr is “Make sure your medium is the same as your message.” If we want our message to be love, we better live it out. Here’s what I think it looks like:
Love the Bernie supporters.
Love the Trump fans.
Love those in Hillary’s camp.
Love the Muslims.
Love the conservative Christians.
Love the atheists.
Love those who identify as LGBT.
Seek to love ALL who cross your path, whether their beliefs line up with yours or not.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love never fails.” (from 1 Corinthians 13)
May that be true of us.