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Good Samaritan, Meet a Philadelphia Eagle

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit next to a Philadelphia Eagles player on a plane from Indianapolis to Philly. The linebacker apologized that I had to sit next to his nearly 300-pound frame (I’m a small lady, so it was fine). He had gotten bumped off of another flight where his teammates were sitting first class. “But usually we travel by private jet,” he said, several times. We spent a good deal of our conversation talking about the gentleman’s expensive watch collection. He has watches encrusted with diamonds, watches as big as a plate, handmade watches, watches with removable faces—the collection is catalogued on his iPhone. One of the watches would have practically paid off our house. The encounter set me thinking. To be honest, one self-righteous thought I had was, “If I earned several million dollars a year, I would not buy hideous diamond-encrusted watches. I would build a school for poor kids. Or I would pay off the college debt and tuition for seminary students with families.” My husband and I believe we have a Christian responsibility to give to people in need. I don’t want to get into the specific ways we try to do this, to try and mute horn-tooting, but to simultaneously try to be specific, I’ll repeat that we donate about as much to charity as we pay in taxes—both are about 17 percent of our income. We make sacrifices to do this and other Christian behaviors such as cultivating children (my goal is four biological kids and whatever future assortment of adopted or foster kids). For example, this summer we’re going camping for four days for our first real family vacation ever. It will be a short, cheap vacation—but I’m still expecting a rockin’ awesome time. The Bible is flat-out obvious—not that everyone has to do the same things—but that Christians must sacrificially serve others. That may mean calling your cranky old aunt once a week because even though she’s annoying, she’s lonely. It may mean taking in foster children. It may mean telling your brother to move out of your mom’s basement, and spending several weeks helping him look up job opportunities. I think of the sacrifices God asks us to make as Good Samaritan moments: The Good Samaritan didn’t go looking for desperate people to help, but in the course of living his life, he certainly found some. So when I encounter people in need, I’m trying to make it a habit to ask, “God, what is my responsibility here?” This attitude among Christians is what, from the earliest days of America, alleviated the demand for government-provided social services. If I take care of those I meet who are in need, we don’t have to raise taxes on people who work to do the same thing. So this Christian attitude and behavior results in smaller government. Boy, Christians, have we laid down on the job. What does this have to do with my Philadelphia Eagles flying companion? I’ll tell you next time.