Wednesday, December 14, 2016
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I know voice mail can be efficient, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Sometimes they're entertaining. I mean, I have friends who have major productions or comedy monologs that greet people. But, you know, voice mail doesn't respond: records, but doesn't respond. One friend captured how I feel in a what he recorded tongue-in-cheek. You call, then you know, you get the little click and you hear the friend's voice saying, "In a world of cold and uncaring humans, isn't it refreshing to be greeted by a warm and friendly voice mail?" No! You just can't automate a personal response!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "An Answering Person or An Answering Machine?"
Actually, when it comes to the needs around you, you're probably one or the other: you're an answering person or an unresponsive like an answering machine. Jesus was trying to point that out in Luke 10:30-34. It's our word for today from the Word of God. You know the story. He says, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, they beat him, they went away, leaving him half dead."
"A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So, too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine..."
It's a great story, huh? Yeah, but it's a troubling story. It's the professional God-lovers-the priest and the Levite-who don't stop for this obvious human need. And it's a Samaritan, one who's considered a spiritual reject by the Jews, who responds as Jesus would with above and beyond love.
Like me, I mean, you may be pretty busy in Christian activities and programs, and that can become a trap. I believe the priest and the Levite knew about meeting needs. I believe they knew about helping wounded people. But they may have confined their response to programs for helping people, to meetings to plan programs, to theological concepts about love and mercy and compassion. Tragically, the longer you've been around Christian things, the more you can replace personal acts of love with programs and structures to do it.
You know, it goes like this: "We have a program that ministers to the poor, the homeless, the brokenhearted, and the hurting. We have meetings that present Christ to lost and dying people. We're having a seminar on reaching people for the Lord." Answering machines; machines to answer the calls of men and women in need. Now I'm very much in favor of organized, large-scale efforts to respond to the needs of desperate people around us. But they're just no substitute for you being the Good Samaritan yourself, for the natural flow of love and mercy that stops for someone who needs money, or a listening ear, a word of encouragement, a chance to hear about Christ's love or to see it in action.
Like the Good Samaritan, I hope you don't lose that beautiful characteristic of your Master. I'd just call it a breakable heart. You got one? Sometime this week, you'll almost surely encounter someone who is wounded or someone who is without Christ. Will you excuse yourself because you're busy in a lot of Christian activity-your answering machines? Or will you stop and be the answer with your loving, personal, above-and-beyond response? That's what Jesus commends.
When the people around you call, they don't need an answering machine, they need an answering person!