In Asheville, N.C., the owner and driver of a tow truck would not tow the car of a stranded, disabled lady who had just been in an accident. His reason for not towing the car was the Bernie Sanders bumper sticker on her car. The tow truck driver, Kenneth Shupe, professes to be a Christian. In his own words in this video, Shupe said “I think the Lord came to me, and said just get in the truck and leave.” (http://wlos.com/news/local/tow-truck-driver-refuses-to-tow-motorist-over-bernie-bumper-sticker)
As I read articles on the story, the parable of the Good Samaritan keeps running through my mind. The parable in Luke 10 begins…
30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A25-37&version=NRSV)
In the Parable of the Tow Truck Driver and the Disabled Motorist, a religiously minded person left a traveler on the side of the road, broken down and alone. I cannot help but draw some parallels. In each story religious beliefs and political ideologies prevented the religious adherent from being a neighbor.
Some will claim that Mr. Shupe has no legal obligation to serve someone with whom he has religious or political differences. That may very well be true. But it is also not the point. As a professing Christian, he has chosen an ethic higher than the law. He has chosen to follow in the way of Jesus, the way of grace and the way of neighbor. In Jesus’ greatest sermon we have on record, the Sermon on the Mount, he commanded his disciples to go the second mile and love our enemies. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A38-48+&version=NRSV)
Through my current and previous pastorates, I have had the opportunity to be pastor to two wonderful tow truck drivers who profess faith in Jesus by word and deed. Steve and Jimmy do difficult and dangerous work. I cannot fathom the circumstances under which they would leave a disabled young lady stranded by the road. In their walks, they have been the Good Samaritan to me and many others.
I know my words may sound like harsh judgment and so I offer them with fear and trembling. I know I have left travelers along literal and figurative roads on my journey. I also know that our when our religious and political beliefs prevent us from being neighbor to another, we find ourselves playing a role in the story of the Good Samaritan that we did not intend.