THE END OF COMPLACENCY: It’s Time to “DO” and Here’s Why.
I’ve heard from a whole lot of people since my first post about my “wake-up call.” Like me, many of you noticed that Niagara Falls has far too many stories of sickness and heartache. You’ve been wondering why you and your siblings, aunts, uncles or friends are dealing with so much illness and disease, and perhaps now you’re looking at things with a broader perspective. I’ve heard from people in their forties who are bedridden. People who have two or three different, unrelated cancers. People who have lost children.
These stories are very hard to hear. In fact, they’re heartbreaking. I cannot imagine watching a child suffer with a debilitating illness, or be struck down by cancer or disease. I cannot stand the thought of a child struggling with asthma or pain of any kind.
Skeptics might point out that there are sick people all over the country. Or that they themselves didn’t get cancer. Those things might be true. But we’re not talking here about the expected or average rates of sickness. We’re talking about profound levels of illness that might strike multiple family members, even when there’s no genetic connection for the disease. Or situations where it’s statistically improbable that two people in a household (or on a street) would have the same diagnosis, yet they do. When “rare” diseases hit too often they cease to be rare. And when a majority of members of a household or neighbors are experiencing a similar set of symptoms we need to pay attention.
“Complacency” has been defined as a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better.
I’m not satisfied with how things are. And I don’t think you should be, either.
One of the Bible’s well-known commands is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Love in this context isn’t just about having positive feelings about the people around you, although that is certainly a part. Loving your neighbor is much more. The parable of the Good Samaritan is a good example. In Luke 10:25-37, a lawyer tested Jesus with a question:
“Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 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. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The Samaritan didn’t just walk by the man who had been beaten and wish him well. Instead, he put him up for the night. He showed compassion. He bandaged the man’s wounds and looked out for his physical needs. The Samaritan put himself out, let the man sit on his donkey, used his own oil and wine on the man’s wounds, and paid the innkeeper in advance to ensure that the man had a place to stay. The Samaritan showed mercy and also took action. You’ll note that Jesus says at the end of the parable to go and do likewise.
We should love our neighbor in the same way. We should show mercy and compassion. We should put ourselves out to help when they’re in trouble. We should attend to their needs, even if it costs us time or money. We act. Love is intentional. In other words, love does.
Jesus didn’t just talk about being loving – He showed it. In 1 John 3:16 it says “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” A few verses later: “Dear Children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.”
When we love, our actions bear that out.
So why should we put an end to complacency in Niagara Falls? Why should we take action and step up to help people who are hurting or in need? Because that’s how we love our neighbor. That’s what love does.