PAST THE HASHTAG.
Get past the hashtag. There’s a story of healing on the other side.
Everyone on social media has seen the hashtag. The simple number, octothorp, “enter your choice and press pound” sign that took on its new name about ten years ago. It’s the tic-tac-toe mark linking like-minded people together to share ideas, brand themselves, and promote agendas.
Some hashtags are fun, like #MyHappyPlace and #CatsAreCool. But others? Not so much. Who hasn’t seen the battle between the voices behind the hashtags of every color skin and badge – #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, and #BlueLivesMatter?
I keep thinking about the story of Jesus while he was instructing more disciples to expand the ministry. He told them to go out and get to know the people, live with them, and accept their hospitality. If rejected, they were to continue to the next place. During that time, a religion scholar asked a question many of us have.
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
Who are we responsible for? If we believe there is a problem, how should we respond?
Jesus answered the scholar with a story about a Jewish man who was attacked and left to die on the roadside. A traveler saw the injured man and crossed to the other side of the road to avoid him. Another person came along, stopped to look at him before going on their way. Then a Samaritan walked up.
SOCIETY SAID THAT THEY COULDN’T RELATE.
The average Jew and Samaritan despised one another. But, this particular person felt compassion and interrupted his plans to administer aid on the spot. Then he took him to a safe place and provided additional care. When leaving, he left money for provisions and promised more if needed.
WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE ANSWER.
“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:36-37 (NLT)
WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE?
The way I see it, the first person in the story represents people who know there is a problem but refuse to deal with it. They put blinders on and go about their business.
The second person represents individuals who acknowledge a problem, even hashtag it, and thinking they’ve done a good thing, get on with their busy life.
Isn’t the third man who we need to be? Someone willing to give time and resources to get to know our neighbor – not just the one next door – but also the one who has different ideas, a different social background, or a different skin color.
HOW ARE WE PERCEIVED?
Thinking of the story, I wonder which of the two people passing by bothered the hurting man most. He probably hoped nothing from the first person. But the second – the hashtag kind of guy? The one who may have said, “I see you have a problem. Good luck. I’ll pray for you. I’ll be sure to let others know. Wish I could help, but…” Again, just my opinion, but doesn’t that seem like rubbing salt in a wound?
THE OTHER SIDE.
Nothing wrong with hashtags. It’s just that the story of the good Samaritan tells us to “show mercy,” “go”, and “do.” If we see a problem, it then becomes our responsibility to move our feet. Jesus didn’t say anything about marching. He instructed genuine hands on, time invested, relationship building, action. That’s where healing takes place.