Who needs me? That may be a more helpful question today than, Who is my neighbor?
Familiarity may breed contempt. It also may create indifference.
Neighbor or Friend?
The Good Samaritan became the means for one of Jesus’ conversation partners to consider, “Who is my neighbor?” We hear Good Samaritan stories often. A person in distress is helped by a complete stranger. That Good Samaritan Laws exist point to the way this story has become part and parcel of the rules that govern our social contract.
Is it possible we have become so familiar with the story that we forget the question that prompted its telling?
Scott Curry points to a central question underlying the Story of Job, “Who will be Job’s friend?” Curry invites us to look at the intersection of Luke 10 and Job. When pressed further Scott wonders if we could not reframe the question of neighborliness to one of friendship, “Who needs me?”
Thinking through The Good Samaritan Story it is not hard to make the connection. The shift from discerning the category neighbor toward the awareness of need may be more helpful for our intention to live as Jesus did.
What happens when friends need forgiveness?
When It Is Not Forgiveness
One of the important features of my recent conversation with Scott Curry, pastor at First Baptist Church, Gruver, Texas, and Ph.D. candidate in Old Testament studies, centered on what forgiveness is not. Maybe Scott was inviting us to look at forgiveness through an apophatic, negative, lens.
Listen for three counterfeit forms of forgiveness. You maybe be both surprised and guilty that many times some of the stock phrases we use to tell someone we have forgiven them may not be forgiveness at all. Suppression and repression become the escape routes away from real forgiveness.
A chief obstacle to forgiveness and an avenue we travel to avoidance is what Scott terms, “the caricature of our innocence.” We do not take full stock of our own situation thereby creating a fiction of our innocence that is then used to continue telling ourselves a grievance story we tell over and again, recreating an occasion for anger rather than restoration and forgiveness.
We Will Keep Working to Get There
This ongoing conversation will continue. Early on Scott insists that we define forgiveness. We don’t quite get there. Our plans include more conversations where we turn from the apophatic, negative statements, to the cataphatic, positive statements. Looking at forgiveness from both the negative statements and positive statements may produce a more fully functioning definition that will help us avoid the counterfeit versions and embrace what would be healthy forgiveness.
Theology carries a couple of traditions that help us make statements about God. Apophatic, Negative, Theology relies on stating what God is not like. Cataphatic Theology depends on stating what God is like. Applying this sort of framework to a conversation about forgiveness may help the listening see the need for both when working toward a good understanding of what is getting done when we talk about a process of forgiveness.
All that to say, we will have more conversations on the subject so stay tuned to the podcast.
Thank you for listening!
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