I know I should appreciate “precious moments,” but reading the same books over and over to my 2-year-old daughter is a chore. I already know the story, and there’s little to enjoy other than the fact that my child likes being read to. Frankly speaking, it’s often dull—particularly at the end of a long day when I just want a break from tedium.
Dare I admit it’s the same with the Bible? When my daughter says, “Bible stories?” in the adorable way only a child her age can, I try to be thankful that of all books, she wants this one, often for “The Man Who Helped.”
In this simple retelling of Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10, a man walks down a road when “bad men hit him and take his pennies.” It matters little to my child that the first two unhelpful men were a priest and a Levite, with the third a Samaritan. (Trust me, I tried explaining, only to get a blank stare.) The story then poses the question, Will you help others in need?
For some reason, I was particularly struck when I asked my daughter this question the other night. My constant rereading of the story puts me in a place where I’m asking this to a 2-year-old, yet I should regularly ask this of myself. I think of the times when my conscience—or perhaps the Holy Spirit Himself—prompted me to act and I didn’t. Give that guy sitting on the bench the $5 bill in your pocket. Pull over and offer that person a ride.
As Christians, we can read the same passages, or hear the same sermons, to the point that Scripture loses its zing. Like enduring the same children’s book three dozen times, we know the words; we get the gist. As modern consumers, we want something new, something fresh. It’s easy to tire of the straightforward response to a scriptural text. And in the case of the Luke 10 passage, Jesus was responding to an expert in the law who was trying to wiggle out of the second greatest commandment, to love his neighbor as himself. He went up against Christ’s simple call that mercy triumphs over legalism, and he lost the argument.
Will we help others in need? Like the lawyer, we can be tempted to make God’s commands more complicated than they are. When we find Scripture repetitive and boring, it’s our fault, not the Bible’s. What we really need is a second look—and a childlike wonder.