Faith Often Calls for Clear Thinking, Quick Action
It was a rainy, foggy morning in March of 1974, just three months before our high school graduation. My friends and I were on our way to the bus stop, chatting about who knows what, when we came upon a frightening sight.
One of our classmates laid motionless on the asphalt pavement. We had no idea what happened, but quickly learned that moments earlier, she had been struck by a car, which then sped away and left for her dead.
My friends and I, being typical teenagers, were at a loss as to what to do. This was long before the option to call 911 and even longer before cell phones. We paused briefly as her friends huddled around her. Not knowing what to do, we continued on to the bus stop. We were shaken by the incident, but too immature to know how to respond. I felt especially bad, knowing that we should have done something, even though it looked like there was nothing that could have been done.
A couple of hours later, during a change of classes, I saw the girl who had been hit by the car. I’m sure I looked as though I had just seen a ghost, probably because I thought I had. In reality, she had only suffered a glancing blow, and it was her head hitting the pavement that caused her to lose consciousness.
At that point, I didn’t know what to say or do, so I did what many awkward high school students would do — I turned and walked the other way. Of course, this made me feel even worse. Not only did I fail to take action the first time, but when given the opportunity to express some words of comfort, I cowardly walked away.
That incident took place nearly 50 years ago, and I am still haunted by it, but if there was a silver lining, it was the fact that I learned a very important lesson — a call to action if you will.
The Book of James has some stern words regarding this dilemma. In Chapter 2, Verses 14-17, we read this familiar passage: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
I felt somewhat dead inside on that day. I don’t know what I could have done, but I should have done something. Clearly, I should not have walked way, but I did — twice.
Fortunately, from this experience, I am far more inclined to provide tangible assistance and not just say, “Go in peace.” It may sound nice, but it is actually a very hollow response.
I didn’t know this classmate very well, but that’s no excuse. God doesn’t instruct us to reach out only to those we know. Instead, he encourages us to reach out to strangers, even enemies. I try to keep that in the forefront of my mind these days so I will be ready the next time I encounter a similar situation.
After all, Jesus could have walked away from us, but he didn’t. Praise be to God, that he saw our life-or-death situation, and chose to step in and save us.
Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John