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Becoming An Authentic Ally By Justin Powers and Deanna Singh

Become an Authentic Ally By Becoming a Better Samaritan

Is it possible to be an authentic Ally? Over the last few months, many Christ-followers have begun conversations about responding to racial injustice. Jesus told us to love our neighbors, and many in the U.S. have started showing love for their Black neighbors in amazing ways. But what more does Christ require of us?

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, he outlines how to show compassion, but he also adds another element that we often forget: personal sacrifice.

Through this story, Jesus suggests that alleviating suffering might require us to give up a few things.

  1. Safety: The Good Samaritan found a man who’d been robbed and beaten within an inch of his life. He stopped, got off his donkey, and cared for the man. The robbers could’ve been nearby, ready to attack him too, but he risked his safety to love his neighbor.
  2. Possessions: During this time, non-stick pans didn’t exist, so oil was essential for cooking, and water was often dirty, so wine was essential for drinking. But the Samaritan took his food and beverages and used them to disinfect the wounds of a stranger.
  3. Convenience: The winding, jagged, and steep Jericho road is dangerous for the human foot. But the Samaritan set the beaten man on his donkey while he walked, spending the rest of the journey twisting ankles, scratching heels, and cutting toes so he could serve.
  4. Time: When he came upon a person in need, the Samaritan veered from his destination. Perhaps his family was waiting for him at home or a business partner was waiting to secure a deal. Whatever his purpose for traveling was, he took the man to an inn and stayed an extra day to help.
  5. Glory: The Samaritan pays the innkeeper to care for the man and leave. It must’ve been tempting to stay until the man could revive well enough to realize all the great things the Samaritan had done for him. But the Samaritan goes further to sacrifice even the glory that often comes to those who make sacrifices.

If Christians want to love their Black neighbors during this time of suffering, Jesus gives them a challenge through the Good Samaritan. Retweeting messages in support of the underprivileged is important. Inviting Black congregants to discuss the church’s response to racism has its place. But loving our neighbor calls for more.

As spiritual as they were, the priest and the Levite probably said prayers for the beaten man as they passed him. But Jesus praised the Samaritan for showing love for others by making personal sacrifices. This parable calls us to go beyond performative allyship to loving our neighbors in ways that cost us something.

Christ asks us to stop on the Jericho road even at the risk of our safety, to give up our oil and wine in ways that surrender our possessions, to descend from our donkeys even if we have to give up our convenience, and to alter our plans even if we lose time. He even asks us to submit the glory we secretly hope to get from making all these sacrifices.

The priest possessed social privilege as a religious leader. The Levite enjoyed economic privilege as a land-owning temple guard. Jesus told this entire story in response to “an expert in the law” who “wanted to justify himself.” These characters benefit from institutions of religion, economy, and law and focus on preserving their privilege. Conversely, the hero Christ applauds is the one who sacrifices his safety, possessions, convenience, time, and glory to help others who are suffering.

With this in mind, here are a few questions to challenge us to become more authentic allies, love our neighbors better, and grow into truer Christians.

  1. How does fear for personal safety keep me from helping others?
  2. How does love for possessions prevent me from alleviating anguish?
  3. How does desire for convenience undermine my ability to serve the underserved?
  4. How does greed for time hinder my opportunities to show Christ’s love?
  5. How does my lust for glory compromise my chance to love my neighbor?

By answering these hard questions, Christ-followers can become better than the privileged priest, Levite, or expert in the law to make the sacrifices the Samaritan made in order to authentically help those who’ve been beaten down along the Jericho Road.

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Justin Ponder  is a professor who teaches courses on Ethnic Studies, African American Studies, and Ethnic Minority Literature. He has published in numerous journals and books on the issue of race and identity politics, exploring the ways to bridge the gap between who we are and who we must become to achieve a more equitable world for others.

Deanna Singh is a business consultant, speaker, and podcaster who is internationally recognized for her work in leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Deanna helps her clients create more equitable and inclusive work environments and engage more authentically within their internal and external communities.

Their company Uplifting Impact helps individuals and organizations create innovation through inclusion.  For more information visit www.upliftingimpact.com.

On August 14-16, 2020 they are also hosting the Virtual How to Be an Ally Summit!

 

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