Monday, March 16, 2009

What Would Jesus Do?

Last week my wife and I I watched a television program on ABC called “What Would You Do”. Reporter John Quinones and the producers of the show set up various scenarios (based on actual events that have happened), recreating the circumstances with actors and hidden cameras. The idea is to discover what would people do, how do they react in these various situations.

Honestly, it is just very hard to watch these types of programs and see the callous disregard most people in this country now seem to have for people. Everyone is so busy with their own life, or too worried about being “politically correct” or “unoffensive” to either stand up for truth, righteousness, or even basic human dignity.

One of the first scenarios involved “hazing”. Hazing is a deplorable activity practiced by many fraternities, sororities, and similar kinds of “societies” which have secret initiations. The idea is for the person attempting to join the group to prove how far they will go to be “in the group”. Many of these hazing incidents are sexual in nature, humiliating, involve alcohol, etc. Sadly it proves that as Americans we have become desensitized to the idea of humiliating others and in particular women. It’s somehow “funny” or “entertaining” to watch other people being tortured, forced to do things, etc.

To me, however, the saddest and most moving story and one that provides a sad commentary on our culture was when the show set up the scenario of a well dressed woman “fainting” on a busy sidewalk. On average, some one responded to her need within six seconds. However, when that person was changed to a homeless man…it took over ten minutes for any person to respond. Most people hurried by. When the man was holding a beer, it was over forty minutes before even one person attempted to help.
I’m sure there could be many arguments and ideas brought to the fore to explain the lack of compassion or caring we as individuals seem to collectively now hold.

However, the most emotionally moving part of this story was when an extraordinary, small, African-American, crippled walking with a arm kane, and policed told abc she is sometimes homeless herself stopped to help. She pleads for help for someone to call the man an ambulance. 26 more people walk by ignoring her. She even gave the man a name, called him "Billy." She brought tears to my ears.

My question is this…how many of those people who ignored or even assisted in those “hazing” incidents claim to be followers of Jesus? Go to worship on Sunday?
What about the folks who couldn't’t be bothered to stop and see if a homeless man needed to go to the hospital?

In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus gave us an example of how we are supposed to react when we see another human being…regardless of who they are or their status in life...who has been hurt, or is being harassed, wrongly accused, or mistreated. As Christians we are the ones who are called by our Lord to make every effort to help those in need, stand up for those who are oppressed or abused, be a voice for the ignored or voiceless.

If we see an injustice being done, do we simply walk by or do we stop and say “Hey! What your doing isn’t funny, it’s wrong and dangerous”. Do we at least attempt to call in an authority such as the police if it would be dangerous to intervene in the situation on our own?

And what of the homeless person, lying helpless in the street? Do we ignore them, or do we at least check to make sure they are okay? Do we ask them their name and try to help them by calling 911 if they are ill, or at least treating them like a human being and showing compassion by acknowledging their existence? I know I'm guilty so many times in my life of showing such indifference and apathy toward such.

What would you do if faced with one of those situations? What would Jesus do, is truly the question we should be asking. Sadly it is something that has been downgraded to nothing more than a quip, a wrist band, or a joke. It should, however, always be the first question we ask ourselves if we have truly asked Him to be the Lord of our life…and then we act on the answer.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is now law.” (Gal. 5:22-23)

Would do you think?

Robert Prater


Terry said...

I have never seen the show, but I have seen a few excerpts of it. From what I have seen, it looks like it is calling people to not only have more compassion for others but to also have more courage to act on that compassion. It seems to be pointing out our general lack of courage to act when we see something that is wrong and hurting others (especially when it involves confronting others who are abusing people).

This was a very good post. I plan on stopping by more often, now that I have discovered your blog.

Preacher Prater said...


I'm glad you found my site and enjoyed it. Please do come back often and always feel free to leave comments.

Yes, may God help us all to be more courageous and have more compassion for those in need.

God bless,

Robert Prater