I’m going to go on a rant here for a minute, so bear with me. I’m not a very good Christian, but I’ve been thinking lately about things like the audacity of Joel Osteen and of Donald Trump autographing Bibles, and I’ve been thinking about the things that Jesus has actually said, and it’s got me a little riled up. You see, I’ve had this pet peeve for a while, and it recently exploded out of me when I saw a preview for a Netflix movie called Good Sam, the “Sam” being short for “Samaritan.”
Here’s the thing that really bugs me about that: The Parable of the Good Samaritan is not the story of one guy being nice to another guy in need because he’s nice. It’s the story of a rabbi and a Levite, both high-ranking figures in Jewish society, leaving a man to die on the side of the road because they didn’t want to get their hands dirty. It’s about how you will find more humanity in a filthy, despised foreigner than in the people who lead us. And it’s true today. Close your eyes, being completely honest with yourself, and ask, who is more likely to stop and help someone dying on the side of the road: Franklin Graham? The Koch Brothers? Or a maligned migrant worker on his way to his tiny home after twelve hours at an illegal, dangerous job? Think about it, and you know the answer. Not only would the poor man stop and help, but he’d take the person in need home to dinner too, even if it means he has to sacrifice his own meager portion to feed them.
Jesus is telling us in that tale to be nice to people, yes, but he’s mostly telling us not to rely on those in power. Because here’s the thing that we, as Americans, always forget: Jesus wasn’t in power. He wasn’t mainstream like he is today. He wasn’t the establishment. Jesus fought the establishment tooth and nail. He mocked the establishment and made it look foolish. He chased the establishment around with a whip. He challenged the establishment so much that they nailed him to a piece of wood for it. Jesus wasn’t telling people which bathroom to use, he was getting in rich people’s faces and telling them that amassing wealth is a sin against their fellow man.
The question you have to ask yourself is this: Which Jesus are you going to believe? The one whose words can be twisted to back up your preconceived prejudices and hate, or the rebellious badass who tore up the gospels and freaked out the elites? And while you’re thinking about that, ask yourself this: Which Jesus do we need more today?