In Luke chapter 10 a theologian tested Jesus asking the seminal question: “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus, being wise, turned the question around on him, asking him what he already believed. The theologian responded “Love God with all your heart and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” but that wasn’t the full question, the theologian really wanted to know “who is my neighbor?”
In a classic legalistic maneuver, the theologian was looking for loopholes, but Jesus being wise to this, told a story upending popular notions of good and bad by telling the story popularly known as “The Good Samaritan.”
In the time of Jesus the Samaritans were reviled by the general residents of Jerusalem because they were a different sect of Judaism. Although from the same Abrahamic origin, their beliefs were different enough that the Jews of Jerusalem felt justified in deriding them as false believers in God, much like Muslims are reviled by fundamentalist Christians in America today.
Jesus used this enmity between to illustrate the point that the true disciple of God did not use distinctions of religion or ethnicity to discriminate in who could be the recipient of generosity.
Lauren Green has written a piece on foxnews.com about Churches that are opening their buildings to Muslims for Friday prayers. There is controversy generated by certain fundamentalist Christian pastor like Dr. Alex McFarland who thinks that opening the doors of a Christian church to fellow Abrahamic religion like Islam is going too far. He believes that it undermines the claim of Christianity that it is the exclusive path to return to God.
Jesus’ story of “The Good Samaritan”, is an important reminder that doing good to your neighbor, doesn’t mean doing good only to those you like, but to everyone, even those of different religions or ethnicity.
I commend the Christian churches like Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tenn., Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Va., as well as some unnamed and Jewish synagogues that have shown generosity by opening their earthly buildings to Muslims for Friday prayers. It is this kind of tolerance and love for fellow man that continue to make America great.