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SUNG by Dionne Warwick back in 1963 the song, ‘Walk on by’ was a massive hit and I know some of you reading this will, back in the day, have grabbed someone you fancy and danced to the music in town halls all over the country.

Maybe you’re humming it now; it’s a song of lost love but the opening lyrics seem strangely appropriate at the moment:

If you see me walking down the street

And I start to cry each time we meet

Walk on by, walk on by

Well, we’re all walking on by at the moment, aren’t we? Increasingly people understand that when you walk on by, sometimes crossing to the other side of the road, it is an act of consideration if not love in order to prevent you from potentially passing on the virus to someone else or from a selfish perspective, getting the virus yourself. You decide for yourself!

Anyway we’re all passing by on the other side, and the very mention of the phrase launches you instantly into the story of The Good Samaritan. It’s probably, along with The Prodigal Son, one of the most famous of all the parables that Jesus taught.

At the heart of it is a single question and a stark, blunt and revealing answer. For the whole parable read Luke 10:25-37.

The question is this, asked initially of Jesus by someone trying to live a life of self-justification (very post-modern) – ‘Who is my neighbour?’ Well, simple answer; everyone!

However it isn’t simply good enough to know that everyone is your neighbour; it has to be demonstrated in how you live your life. Knowledge leads to action. The Samaritan (the scum of society) didn’t simply look at the injured man and say ‘Hey neighbour, can’t help’; he went out of his way to help.

While the others, the priest and the Levite, passed by on the other side (read, did everything they possible could to avoid going anywhere near this man) the Samaritan stepped up in the most extraordinary way and showed love and mercy (the Jews would have thought him the last person to help such was their disdain for Samaritans) beyond comprehension and expectation.

Today while we are out for a walk we are indeed passing by on the other side out of consideration for others. Many more are showing their neighbour they love them in the most extraordinary ways; considered and intentional acts of kindness that humble and impress. Then there are those at the forefront of the battle with the virus who simply have no choice but to be up in its face on our hospital wards. They’re undoubtedly making sacrifices, the true cost of which will not be known for some time. They can’t, out of courtesy and compassion, simply walk on by. Their dedication to their ‘neighbour’ is inspirational.

And isn’t it just as well our Lord Jesus didn’t walk on by and instead walked straight to the cross – he didn’t dodge the bullet; he took one for the world. You see you can’t self-justify in the same way you self-isolate. Justification comes through faith alone, faith exemplified at the cross. And it is the out-workings of that faith that demonstrate the faith, lest we fall into the trap James warns us about; faith without action is dead (James 2:26).

Where are you with your faith neighbour? 

Just a thought…Blessings, Carlton