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Compassion & Grace . . . April 11, 2015

GraceAnother thoughtful message from Reverend Mark Adams, Senior Pastor of Redland Baptist Church in Rockville, Maryland:

In his book, Jesus, the Middle-Eastern Storyteller, Gary M. Burge, Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, shares a story told to him by a theology professor who once worked in Jerusalem. The professor spoke Arabic, so he had access to the Arab Christian community. Over the course of numerous conversations, he heard the same moving story of a modern-day Good Samaritan:

“Not long ago in Jerusalem’s famed Hadassh Hospital, an Israeli soldier lay dying. He had contracted AIDS as a result of his gay lifestyle and was now in the last stages of the disease’s terrible course. His father was a famous Jerusalem rabbi, and both he and the rest of his family had disowned him. The soldier was condemned to die in his shame. The nursing staff on his floor knew his story and carefully avoided his room. Everyone was simply waiting for his life to expire.

The soldier happened to be part of a regiment that patrolled the Occupied West Bank, and his unit was known for its ferocity and war-fighting skills. The Palestinians living in occupation hated these particular troops because they were known to be merciless and cruel. Their green berets always gave them away.

One evening the soldier went into cardiac arrest. All the usual alarms went off, but the nursing staff did not respond. Even the doctors looked the other way. Yet on the floor another man was at work—a Palestinian Christian janitor—who knew this story as well and also knew the meaning of the emergency. Incredibly, he was a man whose village had been attacked by this soldier’s unit. When the Palestinian heard the alarm and witnessed the neglect, his heart was filled with compassion. He dropped his broom, entered the soldier’s room, and attempted to resuscitate the man by giving him cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The scene was remarkable: a poor Palestinian man, a victim of this soldier’s violence, now tried to save his enemy while those who should have been doing this stood on the sidelines.”

This true story shows the power of God’s grace at work in a human heart. When, like this Palestinian janitor, we experience God’s unmerited favor—we become driven by it in the way we treat all people. We understand that, “While WE were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This understanding leads us to “get off the sidelines,” die to self, and “love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.” (Luke 6:28)

© 2015 Mark Adams

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