We’ve been robbed in more ways than we know.

It wasn’t the usual snatch and grab. This was more a subtle insidious taking of life.

In the early stages of their depressive illness, they had been put on the new wonder drug Valium. With strong tranquillizing effects, life was muted.

Then after 30 years, they were empowered to leave its addictive grip. They became a new person. It was like this tightly held bud was finally allowed to bloom and show its true wonder and beauty to the world.

I’ve been robbed of the richness of the perfume within that person.

Mental Illness is a robber and a thief. So are many things.

Illnesses, greed, anger, lust, lies, discrimination, cancers, stigmas … and I’m just warming up.

You have been robbed too. Some of you know exactly what I mean. Sit and go deep with a few honest life strugglers and you will hear the stories of abuse, PTSD and tragedy.

We live in a world of walking wounded.

Jesus enters this walking wounded world and shakes it up with a story of robbers and thieves.

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.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
 Luke 10:30 – 32

Through his semi-conscious eyes

By Jesus introducing the first character as the victim of the crime, he was inviting the first listeners to place themselves in this man’s shoes. Here was someone much like themselves travelling a route many of them would have taken. Notorious for its dangers.

You get beaten down, stripped of all your clothing, left alone, and you’re dying.

Two sets of Robbers

The first set sees opportunity. Your wealth becoming there’s. Self-centred gratification.

You’re not an expression of Gods delight but more a commodity to exploit. You are robbed by the known-to-be robbers. You would expect them to act this way because they are robbers.

The second set, the Priest and the Levite, also see what you could give them. Problems a plenty.

For a priest to touch or even come close to you would mean ceremonial uncleanness. It would be the crossing of a religious boundary. It would cost too much.

They avoid, keep their distance and pretend you’re not there. They rob you of connection, hope, the dignity of a shared humanity and a future.

The second robbing comes from those not known to rob, and that is doubly painful. It doesn’t just add insult to injury, it multiplies it.

If you’ve ever smelled the stench of evil
then this is the ditch that it drains into.

Charity must be real and costly love. C.S. Lewis

Nice little picture Jesus has taken us into hasn’t he. No one likes to be shown the rawness of a dirty ditch but Jesus wasn’t afraid of that stench.

In recovery from a Mental Illness, you will need to identify the robbers, past and present. If you don’t you may likely fall prey to them time and time again.

Mental Health is … knowing
who the real robbers are.

What about you?

Whenever I’ve heard this parable preached I feel ‘shoulded’ on because the focus was on the next character of the story, the samaritan who provides the aid. Did it do the same for you?

I don’t believe Jesus was cracking the whip or laying on a guilt trip for the listener to do more and more, but it was an invite to engage.

Sitting in that ditch, our thinking is expanded to see the corporate evil of robbery that is going on all around us. We are all robbers and we have all been robbed and it will take someone totally like us but also unlike us to help.

Here is my invite.

Get into the ditch and see how you have been robbed. Then stand above the ditch and see how you have robbed others. Feel the rawness of your failed humanity and that this is the context that we are all in.

Next post we find that someone joins us in our mess.

Questions to answer

  1. Who or what has robbed you?
  2. What does it feel like to know you are both a robber and the robbed?
  3. How do you rob yourself?

Quotes to consider

  • To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. Brennan Manning  The Ragamuffin Gospel
  • Certainly we struggle as victims of other people’s unkindness. We have been sinned against. But we cannot excuse our sinful responses to others on the grounds of their mistreatment of us. We are responsible for what we do. We are both strugglers and sinners, victims and agents, people who hurt and people who harm.”
    Larry Crabb, Inside Out
  • The Christian life doesn’t begin until we see that the disease of self-centredness (and its assumption of self-sufficiency) is fatal to our souls and so advanced that efforts at self-cure are useless.  Self-centeredness is as morally wrong for an image bearer as cancer is physically abnormal for the human body.  Larry Crabb Men & Women – Enjoying The Differences

Barry Pearman

Image cc: Jason Edwards

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