October 27, 2009

Drive-thru Christianity

2009 1530 page25 capN ALREADY FRENZIED ER JUST FLIPPED INTO OVERDRIVE. HAVING JUST celebrated her forty-sixth birthday two days earlier, Patricia Kane now lies motionless, attached to the racing, four-wheeled gurney.

Cardiac caregivers, such as registered nurse Sarah Mills, treat heart attacks daily. The process calls her to stay cool, disconnected, professional. Almost robotic, she weaves the gurney through the hall. The hard part comes when—if—she has to tell the family.
Speaking of the family, entrenched in the sterile, pallid waiting room, Philip Kane and his three teenagers fidget anxiously in the rigid, hard-backed chairs. As life and death joust for supremacy, they do the only thing they possibly can: they wait.
Back in the ER Dr. Charles Randall, a seasoned cardiologist, tears into room 5. Mask strapped tight, EKG results in hand, Randall takes one look at the ailing patient before slowly peeling off his mask.
“Mrs. Kane,” the doctor whispers in a surprisingly stern tone, “I’m going to have to ask you to remove your earrings before we can do anything about this heart attack.”
2009 1530 page25Absurd. Right?
I don’t know. You see, in church last week I saw a pregnant 16-year-old girl slide in the back door. She wasn’t dying of a heart attack, but her spirit needed some serious CPR. And what about the scraggily fellow who walks down the middle of the aisle halfway through ?each sermon? You know the guy I’m talking about. He hasn’t shaved for weeks; his clothes are stained and torn. As he passes, you’re overpowered by the stench of body odor and cigarettes. He’s come to church for more than food, but he always leaves just as hungry.
Battered people walk through our doors daily. They’re often searching for something, anything, that will breathe life into their dying souls. Only problem is, we often deem them unworthy of life-saving treatment.
Maybe if she wasn’t pregnant. Maybe if he had some decent clothes and used Old Spice 101.
I’m not saying we’re intentionally malicious. It’s just that in today’s world of instant gratification, we get what we want when we want it. Cell phones buzz from around the world, Internet shopping takes us all to Fifth Avenue, and drive-thru restaurants churn out chow like there’s a rush or something.
Unfortunately—and I’m as guilty as anyone—we want our Christians the same way: Instant. Faultless. Clean. Perfect. Whether we mean to or not, through our words, actions, or indifference this is the message we often send—a stark contrast to the model we’ve been given.
It was a beautiful Sabbath in Jerusalem. As the sun collided with the morning dew, it seemed to cast a radiant light on each of the disciples’ faces as they strolled through the city. Then again, thought Peter, it could just be the presence of the Master. Everything glows when He’s around.
Peter soon realized he was walking alone. Glancing back, he saw Jesus and the other disciples crowded around a beggar’s mat. Knowing he was about to witness something special, Peter dashed in their direction, just in time to hear Jesus’ powerful words: “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” Peter couldn’t help smiling—seeing new life never gets old.
Later that morning, the man who had been healed came running up to Jesus, beaming from ear to ear.
“My son,” Jesus said. “Now, you are well. Go home to your family, but leave your sin behind.”
The man’s shortcomings and failures were never cause for Jesus not to accept, love, and immediately care for the man’s most pressing needs. After seeing Jesus’ power tangibly manifested in his life, the man was open to Jesus’ message. As we encounter broken people, let’s adopt the Jesus model by taking healing action before we challenge people’s appearance, lifestyle, and theology.
As any doctor knows, when a person is dying it’s time to bring them back to life.
A proud Nebraskan, Jimmy Phillips writes from Bakersfield, California, where he is marketing and communication coordinator for San Joaquin Community Hospital. Read his blog at www.introducingthewy.blogspot.com. This article was published October 22, 2009.