If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21
There is an old expression which says, "Ministers see people at their best; lawyers see them at their worst, and doctors see them as they really are."
If that's true, then television reporters see them at their most tragic.
"Tragic" is a proper word for what followed after a despondent, drunken, unemployed man called the TV station to let them know he intended to set himself on fire. Later, when he kept his promise, a camera and sound man were on hand to record the event. The moment the flames started those two men were put in a most difficult situation.
On the one hand, as reporters, they had to record the event as passive and disinterested spectators. On the other hand, they felt they should be caring fellow human beings and save the man by putting out the fire. Time the video footage and you will see the TV crew stayed professional for 37 seconds. For 37 seconds they taped the burning man and captured film that would run on the 6 p.m. news.
Then, after 37 seconds, one of the men switched roles and became a caring human being. It was almost too late. With the help of a volunteer fireman, they were able to put out the blaze.
Thirty-seven seconds. Stop for a minute and look at a clock with a second hand to see just how long a period of time that is.
Still, there are many who would never have helped at all. Even many Christians can watch starvation, disease, pain, murder and all the world's other ills on the news, while calmly eating supper.
It is a sad thing to confess that somewhere along the line our hearts have become hardened and immune to the world's tragedies. It frightens me to know that many people are willing to watch, comment and change the channel without responding. It frightens me that most folks don't care.
This is not the way Christians are supposed to be, is it? The passage from above, the one from 1st John, tells us that we who are beneficiaries of Jesus' love and sacrifice ought to respond in kind. Indeed, John tells us, we cannot say we love God and then ignore the pain and plight of those around us.
Now I don't know what kind of sad and sorry situation life will place in your path this week. I don't have God's omniscience to know that. But I'm pretty sure something will happen where you, like those reporters, will need to make a decision.
That's why I encourage you to be prepared. Decide if you will help or not. And if it makes the deciding any easier, remember that Jesus decided to help you by offering Himself as your replacement under the Law. He died, so you might live.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, when the time comes for me to help my brother or sister, may I have a heart that is willing to make a difference. This I ask in Your Son's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries