Take Another Look

Yesterday on my way home from work, what I thought I saw warranted a call to 911.

A man was lying in a the ditch on the side of the road, motionless.  Even though it was freezing cold outside, he didn’t have on a coat, and one leg of his pants was pulled up to the knee.  Clearly he’d been laying there for some time.  Another man was standing over him, and there was a large truck.  I wasn’t looking at the truck, but filled in the details: there was a garbage bin beside the man who lay motionless . . as the garbage disposal worker had stopped to pick up the can, he had seen the man lying motionless on the side of the road.

I pulled into a near gas station.  I was in a bit of a quandary–should I call 911?  There was already a man helping the man in the ditch.  But I had seen a TV special where droves of people walked by a man pretending to be homeless and unconscious on the sidewalk.  Few cared enough even to dial 911.

I have always wanted to be a hero, and I called 911.  The dispatcher asked me for the exact location.  When I realized that I’d need to pinpoint exactly where he was, I pulled back around–which took considerable time in the traffic.  On my way back, I recognized the man who had been lying down, but now he was standing up and talking to the other man.  And the truck wasn’t a garbage truck at all–it was a City Utilities truck.

I reported that he was up to the 911 operator.  I was trying to make sense of the new information.  Probably he was homeless, and had passed out, but he was all right now.  But, as I turned around once more, this time on the right side of the street to pull over and talk to them, I was thinking something else.  They were talking more like friends.

As soon as I got up close, I realized (with a sinking feeling) how wrong I had really been.  The two men were doing something around a flooded ditch–I don’t know what, but one had a cup and seemed to be trying to drain it.  The other, I realized, had been on the ground doing something–maybe reaching into the drainpipe–and not hurt at all.

I’d called 911 for no reason.  I got out of the car to ask if they were okay to confirm it with the operator, and the dispatch was cancelled.  The 911 operator told me she would rather to be safe than sorry.

I was embarrassed–I had jumped to such wrong conclusions.  How had that happened?

I was reminded of something very real: sometimes we think we know what is going on, but what we really need is to take another look.  Whether I made the wrong move over not by calling, I cost emergency operators some of their time.   I took a few facts I had, and imagined a story around them in my mind–so quickly that the story became nearly fact itself . . until I took another look.

The operator didn’t seem to blame me for messing up.  But what if, after I’d known the truth, I’d lied to try to fit reality into my fiction?  What if I’d hung up the phone and made matters worse by not correcting my mistake?  Or what if I’d made the report and driven on, as I’d originally planned to do, without taking another look?

Immediately after I hung up with 911, I realized the metaphor God was giving me through this story: take another look.

If you’ve glanced in the direction of what you assume Christianity is and think you’ve got this faith all figured out, now is the time to take a second look.

You might have looked at people you thought were Christians, talked to people who you thought were representing Christianity accurately, or just drawn conclusions from jokes on your favorite sitcom.  But what you need to realize is, until you read Christianity for yourself, you will never know if the first impression you got, or the long-held belief you’ve had are really true.

Christianity is found in the pages of the Old and New Testament.  And only when you ‘pull back around’ and look with a willing heart at this Book can you possibly expect to know what is true Christianity.

You can’t call Christians hypocrites, make judgment statements about Jesus, or dismiss faith as ridiculous if you don’t even know what Christianity truly looks like.  All you can do is make your best guess based on what you thought you saw.  And that’s a shaky ground to stand on when it comes to eternal destination.

If you drew false conclusions, whether you had the best of intentions or the most nefarious of motives, the great news is Christ loves you and wants to start all over with you today, right now.  Pick up His Word and read it for yourself.  See how much He loves you.  And most of all, delight in the extraordinary mercy, unwarranted privilege, and unspeakable joy of God giving you the opportunity to take another look.

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.  Even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:13-18, NIV)

Footnote

On devotional blogs, books, and why if this is what you’ve based Christianity on, you MUST take another look:

No matter how many devotional books or blogs you’ve read, you still haven’t seen Christianity clearly until you go to the Source.

Christian authors of course try to get the picture right, but we are all struggling with personal sin, mistakes in our thinking we don’t even know we have, and erroneous conclusions.

Christian authors go to God’s Word to be clarified and to get closer and closer to the Truth, but we never fully arrive until we are out of these bodies. (See Paul’s testimony in Philippians 3:12.)

So if you’re basing what you know about Christianity on how many Sunday school workbooks you’ve gone through or how many devotional texts you get on your phone–it’s time to take another look.

This is an IMPORTANT point to me, because for years I fell into this category.  As wonderful as the wisdom was, not even the finest of Christian literature brought me to Jesus Christ in the way that His Word alone did.)

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Published in: on November 27, 2013 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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