While finishing his studies in medical school a young intern was tasked to go each Monday to a state run psychiatric institution and make his rounds so that he could better grasp the range of mental illness. Each Monday he would show up, be given a list of patients to visit and then an orderly would unlock the door to the ward and quickly lock it back after he walked through. One Monday while walking through the ward a doctor called over to him and offered to accompany him as he visited the patients. The doctor gave him detailed information on each patient and the treatment they were being given. He used terminology in a polished, professional way that would have made the intern's professors proud. He greatly helped the young intern better understand the scope mental illness and the way to treat it. As they walked back to the locked door with the orderly standing guard, the intern turned and shook the doctors hand, thanking him for his invaluable information and signaled for the orderly to unlock the door. The orderly then told him that he could freely leave – but the patient he was speaking to would have to stay behind. (1)I used this story to illustrate how so very often sickness doesn't look like sickness, and the sin in our life doesn't always look like sin. It is easy for us to look around and even at ourselves and not see
the sickness that is everywhere. The biggest challenge to our walk with Christ is sometimes knowing where the darkness is – especially the darkness within ourselves. That is one of the key points from the book of 1st John in the New Testament.
9 The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. [1 John 2:9-11 HCSB] Read more at http://msb.to/1Jn2:9
However even though the young intern in the story was fooled and led astray at least he was LOOKING. He was earnestly trying to understand and help the patients at the hospital. Far too often those of us who know what to look for don't bother even looking in the first place - it's as if our eyes are blinded. But I have a shocking truth for you, Jesus wants us to look and to see the hurting people around us.
The Apostle John describes the Christian faith as walking in the light, and if we truly walk the way Jesus walked then that light in our life should be used to see the truth of those around us. We are surrounded by people who are hurting, in need, and lost in this world. There are three ways we can respond. We can close our eyes and refuse to see, we can let the world lead us astray into thinking there is nothing wrong, or we can follow the example of Christ and not only see the people in need around us but move to help them with the same compassion God has shown to us. To walk in the light we must love our brother.
Join us this Sunday, January 18 at Oak Grove Baptist as we start a new study in our morning small groups called "Ready: Ministering to Those in Crisis" by Chip Ingram and I start preaching a companion series I have written called Christ in the Crisis looking at the traits Christ exhibited when encountering people in trouble.
(1) I found this story in my files but unfortunately I do not have a source listed with it and I had no luck in tracking one down on Google. If anyone knows the source of this illustration, please share it with me in the comments. Thank you.