Recently, the Wiles’ family minivan picked up a new passenger on a road trip in Indiana, a middle-aged man name Gary who gave us a humbling life lesson. When Ashley spotted him, good ole Gary was stumbling and staggering around worse than a teenager waking up on summer break. While Ashley isn’t experienced in bars or drunkenness, the signs of inebriation were so obvious even to her that she knew the man was in trouble and needed help.
As I rolled up with the window rolled down, Gary quickly interrogated me with slurred words as to the purpose of my stop. I reassured him that I simply serve as a church minister, prompting his declaration, “I’m a religious man! I have crosses and Bibles all over my house. I’m a religious man!” I meditated for a moment on his words as he climbed in the van, wondering about my own spiritual life. Like Gary, I’m an imperfect religious person with crosses and Bibles, too.
We taxied Gary where he needed to go, making small talk until the final mile to his home. Then my “religious man” passenger made a rather astute evaluation when he said, “You’re not from around here are you?” I confessed my Tennessee boy origins, which prompted his reply, “I thought so. Nobody from here would DO what you just did.”
While I disagree with Gary’s evaluation of Hoosiers (many of my Indiana friends are wonderful servants), in his mind, Gary drew a very distinct difference between our Tennessee volunteer family and other Christians (cross & Bible owners) that he is used to. Gary said the difference is in what we DO.
Gary’s confession drove my thoughts across Luke 10 and the parable of the Good Samaritan when Jesus is trying to convey the same concept. The expert of the religious law asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The lawyer then summed up the law with “Love the Lord your God… and Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus replied with “DO this and you will live.” Then Jesus tells this earthly story with a heavenly meaning about a man who is robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. Several people pass by without offering aid, but one Samaritan citizen “went the extra mile” in helping the broken man, emphasizing a Jesus principle that what we do is what defines us as followers of God our Father. After discussing mercy, Jesus instructed the lawyer to be more than an “expert in the law” by telling him to “Go and DO the same” as the Samaritan servant.
Here I have to ask myself a humbling introspective question. What separates our Christian families from the rest of the religious experts (cross & Bible owners) of the world? I think it comes down to a small two letter word. DO.
What has your family DOne, is your family DOing, or is your family planning to DO to love God and your neighbors? Gary’s on to something. Just owning crosses and Bibles doesn’t mean your family is DOing anything to honor God and love people. Gary’s evaluation was a humbling God-send that has made me re-evaluate what our family does for others and why we do it. May you be blessed as you and your family consider God’s priorities.
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8b