Intercultural Integration – How a Foreigner Should Show Compassion for the Native Citizen

Intercultural Integration – How a Foreigner Should Show Compassion for the Native Citizen March 15, 2006

How a Foreigner Should Show Compassion for the Native Citizen

But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:29-37 NKJV)

In this parable Jesus explains the importance of having compassion for others, especially those we are to consider our neighbor. When asked “Who is my neighbor?”, Jesus uses a specific example. He uses this example because Jesus is answering a “Teacher of the Law” – a religious Jew. As a religious Jew, he should have compassion on other people. Yet, in the parable that Jesus gives, the religios Jews do not have compassion on thier fellow citizens. Instead, it is a foreigner who has compassion on the citizen.

The fact that the foreigner, and not the fellow citizen shows compassion on the citizen underlies an important principle for Christians who want to integrate into a new culture. The foreigner will have to make an extra effort in integrating into the culture, and that will require showing compassion on the native citizen.

Here is the comparison we can make from this story:

Samaritan and Jew
Foreigner and Native Citizen
Christian and Unbeliever

The location for this story is very important to the plot of the story. Jesus describes an incident that happens on the “road from Jericho to Jerusalem”. This was a difficult road that flows down from the hillside in the Judean hills. It was tough terrain and not very secure. It was in the area where someone could be easily injured. (We could compare it to the “rough part of town” – mostly where foreigners would travel.)

The location gives us an important clue into how we can integrate into the culture. We should be intergrating with foreigners and native citizens. This means that we do not seperate ourselves from the new culture in isolation. We go where the people would be, and sometimes this means the difficult areas of town. We should not try to avoid the areas that we do not want to travel.

The circumstance of this story points to the problem that all of us have as Christians. Religious people should have compassion, and yet in this story they do not have compassion. On two occassions, the religous people (who would have the obligation to help) avoid the one who is injured. The text even implies that the religious people saw the injured man and that the injured man probably saw the religious people. Despite eye contact, the religous people try as hard as possible to avoid the injured man.

Only the Samaritan comes to the rescue. The fact that it was a Samaritan in a foreign land who helps the native citizen, tells us a principle. One of the ways you can begin to integrate into the culture is to start having compassion on the native people around you in your new culture.

Here, Jesus explains SIX specific acts of compassion:

So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’
(Luke 10:34-35 NKJV)

  1. He goes to the injured man
  2. He gives injured man medical care
  3. He carries the injured man using his own resources
  4. He brings the injured man to safety
  5. He takes care of the injured man
  6. He pays with his own money for the needs of the injured man

Integrating into the culture requires changing my response in how to deal with the native people in my new culture. Changing my response can happen when I learn to have compassion on the native citizens around us.

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