“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)
Mark Batterson, in his book, Wild Goose Chase, tells the following story about an experiment conducted by two Princeton University psychologists.
In the experiment, the psychologists interviewed seminary students and asked them why they went into the ministry.
The vast majority of the students said they went into ministry to help people.
Half of the students were then asked to prepare a short sermon on the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
The other half of the students were asked to prepare a short sermon on a variety of subjects.
Finally, the students were told to go to another building on campus to present their sermons.
Unbeknownst to the students, the psychologists staged an actor in an alley along the way, to play a person that had been mugged, much in the same way as the Samaritan – would the students stop to help?
They added one more twist.
Some of the students were told to head to the other building in a hurry because they had to give their presentations in a few minutes. They were going to be late!
The rest of the students were told to start making their way to the other building but they had time before they needed to give their presentations.
Of those in a hurry, only 10% stopped to offer help to the victim, while 63% of those not in a hurry stopped.
In several cases those that had prepared the sermon on the Good Samaritan actually stepped over the victim as they hurried on their way!
Ministry to others can sometimes be messy and much of the time it is inconvenient – we are just to busy to help others.
We find ourselves too busy to reach out to someone in need, too busy to answer a call for help.
Oh we may tell ourselves we have good reasons, yet we constantly let our busyness hamper our ability to minister to others.
I am reminded of an old Filipino saying, “Westerners are people with gods on their wrists.”
Obviously we have to adhere to schedules but when the schedules dictate how we minister, when our schedules prevent us from being used by the Holy Spirit in opportune times, when our schedules make us immune to the needs of others, it may be time to slow down and prioritize.
Jesus was clear about the two great commandments – love God, love your neighbor.
I am constantly reminded that our greatest preoccupation beyond our own relationship with Christ, should be people – helping where we can to meet needs, and taking the time to share the Gospel.
Until next time… keep reading!