I love the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is one of my favorites. Of course, it is about the traveler who was stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead along the side of the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by and ignore this injured man along the side of the road. Then, along comes a Samaritan. Now, Samaritans and Jews despised each other back in the day, but the Samaritan helped the injured man by bringing him to an inn, paying the innkeeper to care for him, and then adding that whatever additional costs there may be, he would cover them in full. Jesus then said, “Go and do likewise.”
OK, I may be a little slow here, but my take on this parable is that, as Christians, we must help others on our journey, as all people are our neighbors. This includes every race, gender, culture, etc. This is part of our role as a Christian. So, along comes Hunter’s book, To Change the World…and my confusion increases. (Lordy, lordy, it’s not good to increase my confusion in this already confused world, Hunter. Whutchu talkin’bout, Willis?)
I have always lived my life to believe we truly can make a difference in this world. John F. Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Mother Teresa said, “If you cannot feed 100 people, feed 1.” And John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down’s one’s life for one’s friends.” This ‘laying of your life’ may be through sacrifice, as every time we sacrifice for someone else, we give up a part of ourselves to bless that person. So, when I read Hunter, I saw this viewpoint of Christianity as a type of idealism of transforming the world, which basically means trying to change the hearts and minds of individuals, and in this scenario, it’s through acts of love. “This account,” says Hunter, “is almost wholly mistaken.”
Hunter continues: “It is essential, in my view, to abandon altogether talk of redeeming the culture, advancing the kingdom, building the kingdom, transforming the world, reclaiming the culture, reforming the culture, and changing the world.” The author then explores that he sees these phrases as conquests. I disagree, as I see these phrases as utilizing the principles of Luke 10:30-37, where Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” In other words, it is through God’s light shining in us that we can lead others to the glory of God and creates transformation.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16). This is what transformation is all about. It is allowing the secular world to see the good works, which will glorify God. Sometimes, preaching the Word just isn’t enough to reach people. They need to feel the touch of Christ upon them to begin to understand His love.
Hunter noted that by making a certain understanding of the good of society as the objective, the source of the good – God himself and the intimacy he offers – becomes nothing more than a tool to be used to ‘transform the world,’ which the author notes as a negative. Yet, Hebrews 13:16 states: “And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are sacrifices that please God.” I’m not seeing the ‘tool’ as a problem, as I believe our goal is to please God on our journey on earth.
So, I’ll end with this thought from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The first question, which the priest and the Levite asked, was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’” Let Christ’s love shine in all we do – and others will see that glow and feel God’s love through His light that is within us. Then, stand back and watch transformation at its best!
 James Davison Hunter, To Change The World: The Irony, Tragedy, And Possibility Of Christianity In The Late Modern World, (Oxford University Press, 2010), 17.
 Ibid, 280.