By Benj Gould

Benj is the pastor of Greenhouse Church, Long Jetty, part of the Garden Network which Meeting Ground is part of.

A Pastor was praying.

He asked the Spirit, “how do I experience permanent life?”. To which the Spirit of Jesus replied “love God, and love your neighbour.” The man thought for a while and asked Jesus, “and how do I love my neighbour?”

 Jesus told him this story.

A woman was walking along a path and was mugged, beaten to a pulp, and left for dead.

A good Christian man was walking along the path. He was heavily involved in his church, hosted people at his beautiful home, and sponsored a child. When he saw the woman on the side of the path he was in shock. He wasn’t sure what to do, so he just kept walking. As he walked away he thought “maybe our church could start a program one day to help people in situations like that.”

A progressive young woman came walking down the path. Almond latte in hand, she had come from an intelligent conversation around social justice, oppressive systems, and the state of modern politics. She was shocked when she saw the woman half dead on the side of the path. Wanting to do something, but not knowing what, she took a photo and posted on instagram. She captioned it “We have to do something about this.” Then, she kept walking.

Then, along the path came an anti-vaxxer. He had just finished posting yet another link to a conspiracy theory on his Facebook wall. Seeing the woman in need, he ran over, knelt down, and asked if she was ok. He wiped her wounds, covered her with his jacket, and drove her to the hospital. Two weeks later he checked in, and gave her the number of a great counsellor.

Jesus replied to him, “who of these loved their neighbour?”

Note: This hyperbolic take on an old parable is intended to provoke reflection, conversation and healthy dialogue around issues like polarisation, stereotypes and the labelling of people. It is not an argument about vaccination. We strongly recommend following the government health advice and getting vaccinated as one form of loving our neighbour. At the same time, it may be worth all of us asking: how can we love those we disagree with? We can’t give you a definitive answer to that question – but it’s certainly worthy of discussion.

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