“One day a teacher of an adult Bible class got up and tested him with this question: “Doctor, what does one do to be saved?”
Jesus replied, “What does the Bible say? How do you interpret it?”
The teacher answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your physical strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
“That is correct,” answered Jesus. “Make a habit of this and you’ll be saved.”
But the Sunday school teacher, trying to save face, asked, “But … er … but … just who is my neighbor?”
Then Jesus laid into him and said, “A man was going from Atlanta to Albany and some gangsters held him up. When they had robbed him of his wallet and brand-new suit, they beat him up and drove off in his car, leaving him unconscious on the shoulder of the highway.
“Now it just so happened that a white preacher was going down that same highway. ‘When he saw the fellow, he stepped on the gas and went scooting by.
“Shortly afterwards a white Gospel song leader came down the road, and when he saw what had happened, he too stepped on the gas.
“Then a black man traveling that way came upon the fellow, and what he saw moved him to tears. He stopped and bound up his wounds as best he could, drew some water from his water-jug to wipe away the blood and then laid him on the back seat. He drove on into Albany and took him to the hospital and said to the nurse, ‘You all take good care of this white man I found on the highway. Here’s the only two dollars I got, but you all keep account of what he owes, and if he can’t pay it, I’ll settle up with you when I make a pay-day.’
“Now if you had been the man held up by the gangsters, which of these three-the white preacher, the white song leader, or the black man – would you consider to have been your neighbor?”
The teacher of the adult Bible class said, “Why, of course, the nig – I mean, er … well, er … the one who treated me kindly.”
Jesus said, “Well, then, you get going and start living like that!”
– Clarence Jordan
Who was Clarence Jordan?
Clarence Jordan (July 29, 1912 – October 29, 1969) was a white southerner who became so profoundly concerned about the “ordinary reader” of the New Testament gospels that, thirteen years before the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, he established an interracial farm in southwest Georgia between Americus and Plains as a “demonstration plot” for the true kingdom. Later, Jordan began to translate the New Testament into the idiom of the region. He called this translation for the ordinary reader a “cotton patch” version, and he actively sought a genuine “flesh and blood” reading from a southern perspective … his reworking of the New Testament was at the same time an effort to rewrite the cultural myths and present a new portrayal of the humanity of God.” – Rewriting the Cultural Myths: Clarence Jordan and The Cotton Patch Gospels, Frederick L. Downing