Will the Real Good Samaritan Please Stand Up?

The story begins with a trip to Atlanta.

All my life I had heard of the Varsity Restaurant in Atlanta. The Varsity is an institution in its own right and its reputation is wider-than-wide. For those who don’t know it, it’s open 12 – 13 hours a day, seven days-a-week, except Christmas and Thanksgiving. It serves 17,000 (that’s right – 17,000!) meals per day. It fills one whole city block.

Well! With a reputation like that how could I fail to check it out when, with free time on my hands, I was in Atlanta.

So off to lunch. I arrived at 12 noon, went in, was duly impressed by the scale, ate my fill, and was leaving, being again impressed by both the quantity and taste of what I had eaten, if not by what I had done to my cholesterol count.

And that’s when I thought the story began.

As I was leaving I saw the beggar standing on the curb asking for money so he could get something to eat.

(One of the few things I have learned in my life is that you don’t give beggars money when they want something to eat. If you do, they’ll spend it on something else not nearly so nourishing, such as beer, wine, etc. What you have to do is take them into the eatery and let them order all they want and then pay the restaurant yourself.)

So that’s what I did: It took him in and filled him up.

And as I left, I was feeling great for having done the good deed of having gotten down in the smell and the dirt of the city with the beggar and having left him better off than when I found him.

In fact, I was really quite proud that I, a really southern WASPish kind of guy, had momentarily been able to escape my culture and behave like a Christian. I had heard and had understood God’s command and responded to it faithfully.

Three hours later I was still feeling good.

And that’s when the story really began. Or should I say the truth began. That’s when God got me by the scruff of the neck and began in His own implacable way that can only cause one to say “uh-oh.”

Said He to me, “Boy, do I love you. But you know you really misunderstood what I had in mind. Think about it like this: There were 17,000 people going to the Varsity today. If you hadn’t been there somebody else would have fed that guy. He didn’t really need you. But he was your only chance to do good today. You were in need. He fed your need. It was he who gave you the opportunity to live Christianly.”

I wonder if that guy knows what a blessing he is? He didn’t learn it from me. I certainly didn’t tell him.

So … Who fed whom? And … who was the Good Samaritan?

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