I ran a stop sign. I was distracted by conversation. The sign was partially hidden. Before I realized what was happening, I cruised right past. Did I mention that I was 15 and driving the Driver’s Ed. car? That’s not good for your grade!
On a Sunday morning in 2010, several New Yorkers ran a stop sign. They were busy. They were afraid. So, when they saw a homeless man lying bleeding on the sidewalk, they cruised on by. And Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax died. That was God’s stop sign they ran.
Their actions mirrored Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). In his story, a man lying battered on the roadside was bypassed, first by a preacher, and then by a deacon. Perhaps they were busy. Maybe they were afraid. Most likely, helping a robbery victim just wasn’t a high priority. It should have been.
Jesus told the parable to put a stop sign on the road to heaven. When asked, “How do I get eternal life?” his answer was simple: Love God and love your neighbor. Just stop and take care of someone in need. This is the way.
One person in Jesus’ parable did stop. Not the hero anyone expected, the Samaritan’s “religious” practices were unacceptable to those didn’t stop – and probably not to the victim either. But, the Samaritan stopped. He was racially and socially an outcast to the misguided “religious” leaders who ignored the hurting, but he stopped anyway. Now, he stands at the intersection, the model of how to love your neighbor – how to find eternal life!
If the twenty-plus people in New York who passed Tale-Yax dying on a sidewalk are typical of the demographics of America, 15 of them would self-identify as Christian. But they didn’t stop. They were likely familiar with Jesus’ story of the good Samaritan. But, they ran Jesus’ stop sign.
Do we run his stop signs? Do we stop for the broken-hearted woman down the street abandoned by her husband? Do we stop for the proud man holding the pink slip after 15 years working for the same employer? Do we stop for the fatherless teen-ager trying to figure out what it means to be a man when he’s never had one in his life to model that for him? For the “innocent until proven guilty” inmate who has been in jail for 2 years waiting for a trial? For the immigrants struggling to learn the language and the systems of America? Do we stop for the sea of souls stained by sin and searching for a Savior?
I have run through stop signs. Have you?