“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” –Luke 10:34
“The moral of the [Good Samaritan] story is that you have to get off your donkey to help somebody.” —Reggie McNeal
There is an old saying, which you may have heard, it goes something like this, “You should do what you can, not what you cannot.” The point is simple, there are some things that we can do to make a difference and these are the endeavors that we should focus our time and attention on, instead of placing our focus and energies on what we cannot do. There are actions we can take in the contexts of our lives to make a real difference in the world to help others and to love our neighbors.
Reggie McNeal highlights this idea of making a difference where you are in his book Get Off Your Donkey!: Help Somebody and Help Yourself. In this book McNeal highlights the reality that we are all, ultimately, in the people business, especially if we are in church ministry and leadership.
In his introduction McNeal highlights this issue, “I’m trying to help them [church leaders] get out of the church business and into the people business” (McNeal, p. 14). Like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, too often the church “has passed by on the other side of the road when we should be the ones showing the way” (McNeal, p. 15).
Oftentimes we can get trapped in over analysis and in paralysis concerning all of the need and brokenness surrounding us in the world. The needs and the problems around us are great, but we cannot afford to allow these to bring us to inaction, depression or fatigue. McNeal encourages his readers with the following, “We can’t afford to let this negative vibe paralyze us into inactivity while people are bleeding out all around us” (McNeal, p. 23). We must take action and help our neighbors. There is plenty we can do to make a difference in our world.
We must be the church in the world and not just be on our way to a church building with all of our religious activities, neglecting our neighbor who is beaten and bloody on the roadside. McNeal says it this way, “The problem is, religious activity is still getting in the way of our being good neighbors” (p. 38).
As the church, we must move away from religious piety and toward a Biblical model of discipleship. According to the book, “The litmus test of discipleship is ‘follow-ship’! Are we doing what Jesus commanded, or are we just really good at recalling his commands?” (p. 39). We cannot be all talk in our service to the Lord and His church. We must put our faith into practice and get off of our donkeys.
Get Off Your Donkey!: Help Somebody and Help Yourself is an excellent book to light a fire under an often apathetic, complacent and lazy church. Church leaders of every level and church members, and laity at every level, should read this book. The church could use a good kick in the donkey to get us back to our mission in the world.