Monday, July 18, 2011

Jumper Cables

A certain lawyer stood up and tested [Jesus], saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
(Luke 10:25-29)

In 1970, a Princeton University social psychology class conducted a study using students from the Princeton seminary. They asked the seminary students to prepare talks on Biblical topics for their class. They were then instructed to deliver the same talk in a different building. Some of them were asked to speak on the parable of the good Samaritan. The each seminary student was given different degrees of urgency in getting to the class. Some had more time than others.

What the seminary students did not know, was that the class had placed actors along each seminary student’s path to the next building. The actors were slumped over and pretending to be in pain. The study was measuring whether the seminary students would stop to help, and if the level of urgency in getting to the next talk would influence their decision. While most of the seminary students stopped, their willingness to go the extra mile to help was greatly influenced by their perception of being in a hurry.

A friend related a story to me recently that truly shocked me. She had returned to her car in a parking lot, got in and tried to start it. It would not start. She thought the battery might be the problem, so she began looking for someone to jump start her car.

She saw a man approaching her, and spoke to him a couple of times to ask if he had jumper cables. He ignored her. When she finally got his attention, he acted as if he did not know she was talking to him. She asked if he had jumper cables, and he replied that he did. However, he followed that by saying that he was not going to attempt to jump start her car, for fear of damaging his Lexus.

Most of us are appalled at hearing such stories. However, in our Christian walk, we behave the same way in many ways. Most of us are quick to respond if someone is in physical or financial need, but what about their spiritual needs? How long, if ever, has it been since you asked someone where they will spend eternity?

Knowing that we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and not sharing His love with others, is like owning a Lexus AND a set of jumper cables, but refusing to share them with someone in need. This world is in great need of a jump start. People need to hear that God loves them and gave everything for them. Romans 10:14 says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

There is a Christian song from the 80’s that says, “You’re the only Jesus some will ever see. You’re the only words of life some will ever read.” Tell someone about God’s great love. It’ll be like giving them a jump start!

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
 (Luke 10:30-37)