Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I didn't recognize you...

Go to most any car dealership in the country, talk to the seasoned salespeople, and you’ll find some very interesting stories. One story that seems to be a common one, is the story of the person who comes into the dealership in an old vehicle, dressed in worn or dirty clothes who wants to look at a very expensive vehicle. Most salespeople would go the other way or try to not wait on them, only to find out that the person is very wealthy and could buy anything they choose. Depending on the story, the customer either pays cash on the spot or gives the business to the dealer down the street.

The sad part about this story is that in most cases, it is not an urban legend. Most of these stories are actually true. The reason they are true, is that we as humans tend to pre-judge (or pre-qualify as they say in the car business) people, based on how they look, dress, drive and sometimes how they speak.

This was put to the test back in 2007 by The Washington Post. One of the writers enlisted Joshua Bell, who is a renowned violinist to play his violin during the morning rush hour at the entrance to the Washington Metro subway. Joshua dressed in second-hand clothes and played for about 45 minutes to 1,097 people.

Just three days before, he had played to a full house at Boston Symphony Hall, where the cheapest tickets were around $100. Now he was giving a free mini-concert, with the case of his 1713 hand crafted Stradivarius violin (valued at over 3 million dollars), open for tips.

How did this experiment turn out? Out of the 1,097 people who passed by, only 27 of them gave money, and only one recognized him. Joshua collected a whopping $32.17 for this concert. That’s a long way from what I’m sure he collected three days before in Boston. Sometimes we pay too much attention to the packaging and not enough to the product. (Here is the link to the hidden camera video of the experiment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnOPu0_YWhw)

The same is true in Christianity. In our churches, we argue over whether the music should be traditional or contemporary or blended. We debate the color of the carpet and the paint. We miss the message, because we don’t like the presentation.

Jesus comes to us in many forms. He may not show up at your home wearing a white robe and long beard, but trust me, He shows up. God provides us with opportunities to minister to others each day. It may be in a kind word or a pat on the back. It may be in a good deed done or a wrong forgiven. Each opportunity that a Christian has to do good, is an opportunity to not only minister to others, but we serve Christ well in the process.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the king separating the sheep from the goats. He tells the sheep on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

They were confused and asked when they did such. He told them “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Then the goats had the opposite happen. They did nothing for those who were hungry, sick, in prison, or thirsty. They were told that they would be going to a very bad place.

Never miss an opportunity to be Jesus to those who need Him. You may be the only connection they will ever have to the Savior. Share His love with someone today!

You're the only Jesus that some will ever see
And you're the only words of life, some will ever read
So let them see in you the One in whom is all they'll ever need
'Cause you're the only Jesus, some will ever see
Gordon Jensen 1983, Word Music

1 comment:

Pastor Phillip Howle said...

Great stuff here. Your use of illustrations is always great on your blog. I am only assuming it must be just as well in your preaching as well. Praying you have a great day. Phillip