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L et us begin by asking ourselves this question: have we been loving our neighbor who is different from us?

Growing up, we all have our background and our community. We have a background of race and ethnicity, and we also have been taught in our community about how to love our neighbor. And we have our own biases.

But today, we want to learn from the Word of God, from what Jesus Christ taught us on how to love our neighbor. We explore this profound teaching from Jesus on how to love our neighbor at a crucial time. The parable of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:25-37, is a powerful guide for us on how to dismantle racism and build a world that is rooted in love and equality.

We will see how a loving neighbor acts sacrificially, impartially, and compassionately. 

A loving neighbor acts sacrificially

In verses 34 and 35 of this parable, we see the Samaritan’s action giving us a clear example of a sacrificial love. We read that the Samaritan went to the wounded man, bandaged his wound, and poured on oil and wine. He then put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

The next day, he even took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Look after him, and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

We can see here that the action of the Samaritan loving the man who was wounded was one of  sacrifice. What does that mean? Loving sacrificially means action that invests our time and effort, and sometimes even our own money.

The Samaritan didn’t just offer a quick fix or some superficial fix; instead, he invested his time and effort into truly helping the wounded man.

Similarly, in dismantling racism, sometimes it requires more than just words. Sometimes, it requires our sacrificial effort. Dismantling racism demands our time and effort, and sometimes even money and our energy. We must be willing to engage deeply, to educate ourselves, to listen to those who are affected, and to take concrete actions that foster equality and justice.

We can also see in the Samaritan’s example that not only does loving sacrificially mean investing our time, effort, and action, but it also means being faithful until the end. The Samaritan helped the wounded man until he recovered fully; he was willing to pay the extra amount of money to make sure that the other man would be healed properly. The Samaritan promised to return and cover any additional costs. His commitment was not a one-time act, but continuous support.

So, too, in our fight against racism—we need to follow through on our commitment. It’s not enough to just start the initiative and have a conversation, but we must remain dedicated to seeing this through to the end, ensuring lasting change if we want to dismantle racism and remove systemic racism that we see everywhere in institutions.

One example of loving sacrificially comes from 2020-2021 and the racial reckoning that happened in the U.S. surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. We all mourned, feeling grief, anger, and stress. But I could see that there were so many good Samaritans—people who loved our Black brothers and sisters, then our Asian brothers and sisters—sacrificially investing their time, energy, and effort to check the condition of their fellow brothers and sisters who were mourning. So many people day and night, went to rallies and protests, investing sacrificially of their time, their energy, and even their own money.

Related: A call to justice and mercy

And there are some people who are still following through, now in 2024, because we must understand that dismantling racism is a slow process. We have to validate the pain of our racial brothers and sisters who are going through some tough times in this process, and we are encouraged to speak up and to love them sacrificially.

A loving neighbor acts impartially

Second, a loving neighbor also acts impartially, or without partiality. For this example, I want to focus on the lawyer’s motive, as described by Luke. Jesus tells this parable in response to a lawyer’s question about inheriting eternal life. The lawyer is seeking to justify himself and asks, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus answered through the parable of the Good Samaritan, showing that loving our neighbor knows no bounds; acting without partiality means love in action is not limited to who you want to help or what we must do in terms of helping others. The lawyer’s question highlights a common human tendency of racism, of discrimination—a tendency to limit our love to those who maybe are similar to us. But Jesus’s parable shows that our neighbor is anyone who is in need, regardless of their race, nationality, or their background.

To dismantle racism, we must also embrace this inclusive love, recognizing that every human being is our neighbor. This parable illustrates that a true, loving neighbor is not selective about the type of help that he must offer. Like the Samaritan’s care for the man’s physical wound and his provision of continued care, our love for our neighbor must be comprehensive, addressing not only acts of racism, but also systemic inequalities and injustice. We must be willing to engage in all forms of advocacy and support needed to bring about true equity and justice, equality to everyone.

A loving neighbor acts compassionately

Third, a loving neighbor not only acts sacrificially and without partiality, but also acts compassionately. This is the keyword in this passage.

In verse 33, we read that the Samaritan had compassion on the injured man. This compassion drove his action. It’s not about considering the social status or who the man is. While the lawyer who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” was probably acting out of pride and limiting who he wanted as his neighbor, the Samaritan saw the man who was hurting and had compassion. He had mercy. He had kindness.

Compassion is not a duty or an obligation of what we must do in terms of creating our ladder to heaven. Compassion is a response from the heart. The Samaritan’s actions were not driven by a sense of duty, but by genuine empathy and love for his brother.

This reflects our efforts to combat racism. We must let our actions flow from true compassion, seeing the humanity in every person, and feeling their pain as our own.

Similarly, our response to racism must be grounded in mercy. This means also forgiving, maybe someone who we might have something against. Maybe our enemies. Jesus says to love our enemies, maybe those who we might be fighting right now. And Jesus says to love those who are broken, those who we might be struggling in our family or in our community. We are asked to show compassion to them, seeking reconciliation and acting with kindness towards all.

And, lastly, compassion reflects the true heart of God. In verse 27, Jesus summarizes the law as loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and also loving our neighbor as loving ourselves. Compassion reflects the very heart of God, who is love.

When we act with compassion, we mirror God’s love to the world. I believe that when we love God, we love our neighbor, and when we love our neighbor, we love God. It is a reciprocal love that reflects the Trinitarian love of God. And it’s reflected in our communion with our brothers and sisters and our love for God.

This divine love has the power to break down the barriers of racism and bring healing to our communities.

Related: Why intentional diversity matters and how you can pursue it in your church

My experience with Good Samaritans

Here’s a little bit of my story to help illustrate how these three characteristics of a loving neighbor can be seen today.

I am an immigrant from Indonesia. I came to New Jersey with my family when I was 13. And I can say that life as a first-generation immigrant is not easy. It’s a very hard, long road, full of pain and toil and the struggle of life here in America.

But the family of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) opened the door for us and welcomed us in ways beyond we expected. The RCA community in New Jersey gave us the opportunity to worship and gave us a church where we are now.

The RCA gave opportunity for people like me and so many others, taking notice of us and allowing us to become ministers of Word and sacrament, and to also continue on fighting this systemic racism that’s going on not only in our community in Metuchen, New Jersey, but also in North America.

We can also play a part in bringing Revelation 7:9 into a reality and trying to break down the walls of racism that may be still going on in our communities.

And I can say that many of the RCA brothers and sisters whom we’ve met have this compassion toward us, and I want to just say thank you—for opening the door, for allowing us, for having compassion toward us, for coming to us, for healing us, and for taking care of us to the point where we can independently live.

This example reflects God’s love through loving neighbors in this RCA community. And now I can say that this is my goal: to have a multi-racial, multi-ethnic church, not being an exclusive group of people, maybe just Asians, or just Indonesians. But we aim to welcome the door for everyone, not just our own people, but to have multi-racial, multi-ethnic worship that glorifies God.

I’ve learned this from the Good Samaritan parable.

Growing up as Asian, as Indonesian, and going to high school and college here in the United States, I faced many incidents of racism in terms of bullying, racial slurs, and things like that. But I always ask myself and ask the Lord, “What do you want me to do? What do you want me to do in terms of breaking the barriers of racism?” And the Lord seems to guide me into this passage all the time, of how we can be a loving neighbor, not just for my own people, but for all.

Related: Diversity and belonging: a Revelation 7:9 vision for today and the future

A loving neighbor reflects the love of Christ

In conclusion, the love of a neighbor reveals Christ to the world. The truth of the matter is Christ is the Samaritan man who first saved us—saved us from the other side of the road of life that is filled with suffering and brokenness. We were sinful, beaten, and helplessly dying, but Christ came from the glory of heaven to rescue us.

Christ is the Samaritan who showed his sacrificial love, investing his time, effort, and the riches of heaven, to the point of death on the cross. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We were lost and bound by sin, but Christ laid down his life to save us.

His sacrifice calls us to love sacrificially, breaking the walls of racism. Christ also is the Samaritan who showed his love without partiality. Romans 5:8 states that God demonstrates his own love for us in this—while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Just as the good Samaritan did not discriminate, Christ saved us despite our sin, despite that we were his enemies. He died while we were still sinning against him. He tore down the wall between God and humanity, and we are called to tear down the walls that divide.

Christ also showed his love compassionately, like the good Samaritan. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s love encompasses all people. When we see others through the lens of God’s love, we are moved to act with compassion and seek justice for all.

Related: “Your kingdom come” (a justice and reconciliation devotion)

So, as a call to respond, I would like to ask: Who is your neighbor? Who are the people you might not consider as your neighbor? Would you be willing to love them as Jesus taught us?

I invite you to love those who are different—strangers, and even sometimes those we consider as enemies—because God loves them too. Let your love reveal Christ through you to all people, to the Indonesians, to the Koreans, to the Chinese, to the Blacks, to the Latinos, to the Native Americans, and to the white Americans.

Why? Because God loves them too.


Heavenly Father, we thank you for your sacrificial, impartial, and compassionate love. Help us to love our neighbor as you have loved us. Break down the walls of racism in our hearts and in our world. Empower us to act sacrificially, without partiality, and with deep compassion. May our love reflect your heart and bring healing to our communities and to this world. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray, amen.

This sermon was delivered during a Dismantling Racism Prayer Gathering. Read more about that prayer movement here. Posted with permission.

Leo Poluan

Elder Leo Poluan was born in Indonesia and emigrated to the United States as a teenager. He graduated from Nyack College with a bachelor of science in pastoral ministry and biblical studies. He and his wife reside in New Jersey, where he serves as an elder and the faith formation director at the Reformed Church of Metuchen. Leo also serves as the president of the Reformed Church in America’s Council for Pacific and Asian American Ministries. He is currently earning a master of divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary.