Good Samaritan Politics


By Amanda Leavitt


At our midweek senior high Bible study recently, just before we focused on the story of the Good Samaritan, some students who cannot vote yet began spouting diatribes about the upcoming election. I quickly put the kibosh on it, reminding my students of our calling to love and respect people. Funny timing then, as we switched gears to watching a bunch of video vignettes about the meaning of being a Good Samaritan. The last one caught my attention because it ended by describing that the Samaritan in the story was someone that the prevailing culture hated, and that God loves those that culture hates, and that Jesus loved those that no one else would, and that Christians ought to be loving and caring for those who the predominate culture despises.

It felt God ordained that we heard this just then, and it struck me that in an election the cultures we find ourselves within are tied closely to the political party we camp in. So, finding those that our own culture hates may be the easiest in the midst of an election. Opportunities to practice Good Samaritan-like behavior are in front of us everywhere, when more than half of the people we encounter likely disagree virulently with our own perspective.

Every four years in the US, the start of the school year is blip in a cacophony of the noise around the national presidential race and the patriotic cheers for the summer Olympics. This election year the noise is even louder as the violence in our own country seems to rise, and anger and fear surround so many volatile situations. It seems that in this presidential election, as with many in the past, people believe that the president we elect will cure our nation of the ills that bring anxiety into our lives. Many believe that somehow if we elect the right one, they will protect us from reality of the hidden nature of the future and the unpredictability of the actions of other people. As a Christian I accept as truth that all people are sinful and that makes the reality mentioned in my last sentence all the more worrisome because unpredictable sinful people can do terrible things. This is the reality we live in; and no president or Olympic champion can actually protect us from that reality no matter how much they’d like to say they can, even if they try their hardest. This is an uncomfortable truth.

It is the truth we try to hide from as we defend the person we believe is best to lead our nation. It is the truth that rises up around us. It is a truth our teenagers are grappling with as they are bombarded with the opinions and perceptions of their parents, teachers, peers, and media of all forms. I hear my students arguing with another about the one they believe will actually be able to fix our nation’s problems. I am amazed how people insult one another as they insult the political candidate they disagree with, how the most “Christian” people I know turn savage when a friend confides that they might vote for the opposition. I am sure you’ve seen it: they become like scared cats, hair standing on end, cringing, almost shaking.

We are sending our students into a politically charged school year. Their opportunity to be witnesses of the way God loves abound. We have a grand opportunity to help students think this through in our youth ministries. It is only August, the volume is only going to get louder through November. Our students also have the platform to speak into Who is actually the cure for the uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that plague the hearts of the people in our nation right now. They have the platform to breathe peace, joy, love, and Kingdom hope into ugly situations. It is a challenging calling, but the beauty of the Good Samaritan’s behavior has spoken boldly without words for over 2000 years. Lord, let us rise to the challenge and bring others to do the same.