“A man is seen lying on the ground a short distance from you. He’s bleeding, in great pain and cannot move. Left for dead on a narrow path traveling on his twelves mile trek from one town to the next. Mountains surround the small road, so bandits have easy spaces and places to hide and rob. Who keeps walking on for common sense, selfish purposes? And who stops and offers the most Godlike/human response?” Before you know it, you’ll be entering ‘The Twilight Zone’ of Gospel stories.”
You may not know this, but there are many others who passed this hurting person. The first passerby is always our U.S. illusion of independence, so often wrongly defined and selfishly lived. The second passerby is the best of our country and more importantly the best of our beautiful Christian faith. The first says each time, “I’ll shoot for personal happiness,” and the second says each time, “No, I’ll shoot for meaning and moral joy.” Which one are you and which one can you be?
(Adapted from “The Second Mountain,” by David Brooks.)
The first says, “Celebrate independence,” when the second comes by and says, “I will celebrate interdependence. I will celebrate the chance to become dependent on those I care for and for them to become dependent on me.”
Next first guy celebrates autonomy, the second sees the wounded and “celebrates relation.”
First guy yells out where the nearest hospitals and soup kitchens are in a self-assured voice. Second guy stops to “listen and respond, communicating in the voice of intimate exchange.”
First guy boosts to himself (who else could or can he boost to?), “No one’s watching, so what do I care,” second guy whispers this is an “enchanted world, a moral and emotional drama.”
First guy doesn’t see much self-interest, turns away. Second one “says that a wold view that focuses on self-interest doesn’t account for the full amplitude of the human person.”
(First guy isn’t doing too well, is he?)
Again with this first guy, “I’m only interested in buying and selling.” Second believes and feels, the “main activity of life is giving. Human beings at their best are givers of gifts.”
First guy, “There’s a Sheraton not too far away. If I keep him there for three night, I’ll get American Airlines miles. Then when he’s better, I can coax him into the ‘Refer a Fiend’ program. I get 30,000 more free miles, and he’ll get 10,000 miles. It’s a ‘win-win.’ Who says, ‘I’m not a nice guy’?” Second guy, “There’s a Sheraton a short distance from here.” Period.
First guy once again, “You have to love yourself first before you can love others. Second steps up and says, “You have to be loved first so you can understand love, and you have to see yourself actively loving others so that you know you are worthy of love.”
Poor first guy … last one folks, “A person makes individual choices and keeps their options open.” Number two guy, Life is “a vale of promise making” and promise keeping. “It is about making commitments, tying oneself down, and giving oneself away. It is about surrendering the self to making the kind of commitment that, in the Bible, Ruth made to Naomi: ‘Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people, and you’re God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.’”
We’ve heard this gospel story too many times to not complete it with our response.