Wright, N. (2020), 'Samaritan's Donkey', Chainlink, Christian Motorcyclists' Association, Summer, p7.
The Christian motorcyclists’ group meets on Zoom and we start by reading Jesus’ parable of the ‘good Samaritan’. I allow myself to daydream a bit and, with a little poetic licence, imagine Jesus substituting the donkey for a bike, if he were to re-tell the story today. After all, there are some parallels between how bikers are viewed by wider society now, and how Samaritans were viewed by wider society back then: dodgy heretics, not quite the real deal; viewed out of the corner of the eye with scepticism and suspicion.
I have to confess that I hadn’t really noticed the donkey before. The narrative draws our attention naturally towards the human beings in the drama: the person who gets beaten up, the people who don’t help and the outcast, solitary stranger who does. The message of the story is clear: be like the outcast, the one who showed love, compassion, in action. After all, the parable paints a vivid picture of Jesus himself, the ultimate Divine stranger who finds himself outcast too, who meets us at our point of need and saves us.
So where does the donkey, the bike, fit in? That’s the question that catches my attention this time around. The bike is the vehicle by which the stranger carries the broken person to safety. The bike is used to fulfil a God-given mission, call, purpose – whatever language we prefer to use. And that gets me thinking. I’ve owned 24 bikes, crashed 19, and been saved by God more times than I can remember. Yet how far have my bikes been vehicles to be used by Jesus, rather than simply objects for my own pleasure and fun?
At this point in the group, folks tell stories in which their bikes and Jesus are integrally-linked. It’s humbling and inspiring to hear. One gets bits of his old bike restored and, at each stage, uses the opportunity to tell the mechanics and paint-sprayers about Jesus. Another decorates his bike with miles of tinsel and lights and takes it out at Christmas, armed to the teeth with sweets and a loud bell, to share the joy of Jesus. Another, living in the Philippines, uses a bike to take relief supplies to destitute people in the jungle.
One joins funeral processions, for strangers, to show love and solidarity at their greatest point of hurt and brokenness. Another uses his bike to travel to a dance, where he meets his partner who leads him back to Jesus. Another gives thanks to God for helping him after a bad motorcycle crash and uses that account as a testimony to Jesus’ power to save. Others wear white crosses on black leathers and minister, quietly, to bikers at a truck stop. Many attend motorcycle events under a Christian biker banner to offer practical help.
So back to the story now. The good Samaritan, the biker; the donkey, the bike. Let’s give all to Jesus. In the striking words of Jasmin, a Filipina who’s part of the Towcester group and lives closely with Jesus among the poor: ‘Whatever status or power you have, use it for those who are vulnerable; whatever money you have, use it for the poor; whatever strength you have, use it for the weak; whatever hope you have, use it to bring hope to those who live without hope. Speak up for justice and truth – whatever the cost. Pray.’
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