Don’t Give Up!

Don’t Give Up!

Sunday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Kason Eubanks

Austin Hatch’s story has been called miraculous. Some believe he is a walking miracle. He was born into a loving family who loved to spend time together. One day his family was going back home to Fort Wayne, Indiana from their family cabin in Michigan. On the flight back they experienced equipment failure. He lost his mom, his brother, and his sister. The only thing that was left was his father and the game they both love. The game of basketball was there to comfort Austin as they both trash talked each other during the games they played. After his dad got married he decided to take his new wife and Austin for a flight. Due to bad weather they were forced to land early, causing another crash. This time he was the only survivor. He was in a coma for six weeks. When he woke up he had to relearn his life. It was his dream to play for Michigan. Already accepting the scholarship he knew he needed to learn basketball again. He kept going to rehab and finally got in a game at Loyola High School when they got a big lead. They passed him the ball and he shot a three. He did it! He overcame the two worst days of his life.

He cared so much about the game of basketball that he went through all that trouble to go back through all the things he already learned so he could shoot that shot just a couple more times. Just like Austin we all suffer. Going to school or work everyday, it’s hard to keep the world out and remember our task from God.

Revelation 2:10 says, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Even the fear of death should not keep from the task God has given us. We are reminded in 1 Peter 3:14 and 2 Timothy 3:12 that if we suffer for the right that we will be given a greater reward. In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul tells us, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Just like we should. We should not let anyone stop us from keeping our faith no matter what we go through.

Austin Hatch’s story proves that anything can happen at any time. To anyone who is not a Christian or not living as a faithful Christian, what are you waiting for?

What It Takes To Follow Jesus

What It Takes To Follow Jesus

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Luke moves from a sample of Jesus’ teaching and work in the synagogues to His teaching and work among the common people in Luke 5:1-11. For the first time, in Luke five, we see individuals responding to His teaching by following Him. Though Luke only identifies one of the men at this point, the three other gospel writers mention that Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew, was also in that number. Matthew and Mark tell us that the men in the other boat were James and John. These four fishermen would soon “be catching men” (10). Luke seems to focus his attention on the reaction these men had to Jesus, His teaching, and the impact the miracle with the fish had on them. Their reaction to Jesus mirrors the reaction we need to have when called by His Word to follow Him.

DISCIPLESHIP REQUIRES EXPOSURE TO JESUS’ WORD (1-4).

Luke shows us Jesus teaching in close proximity to the fishermen, but gives no clear indication of how much or if they are listening to Him. He does show how compelling Jesus’ teaching is and how the people were listening (1). John tells us, though, that Andrew had already been listening to Jesus and was trying to persuade Simon to follow Him (1:40-42). Paul’s teaching that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17) will be apparent in the lives of these followers, as Luke will demonstrate in this gospel and the book of Acts. We cannot follow one whose ideas, instruction, and incentives we do not know or believe. 

DISCIPLESHIP REQUIRES UNCONDITIONAL SUBMISSION (5-7).

This is not a one-time act. Submission is a process that must be practiced continually. But, no one can choose to follow who does not surrender his or her own will to Christ’s (cf. 9:23-26). Jesus, the carpenter, tells these fishermen how to fish. Despite their all-night total failure at their craft, they trust Jesus’ word. Simon says, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets” (5). Success followed submission, something they would see in greater, more important ways as they continued to follow Him. Jesus asks us to do difficult and perplexing things. Our task is not to question, but simply to surrender. 

DISCIPLESHIP REQUIRES A HUMILITY TO SEE OUR SINFUL SELVES (8).

Simon will show traits which prove him to be a work in progress, from impetuousness to inconsistency. Yet, Jesus could see his heart and the inspired Luke sheds light on it, too. When Peter sees the power of His Lord, he says, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (8). All of us will disappoint Jesus in our walk with Him, but He loves a heart that harbors no stubborn pride. This is the man Jesus will choose as a leader and spokesman, one who does not try to project perfection and superiority. So it is today (1 Pet. 5:5-6). 

DISCIPLESHIP REQUIRES PROPERLY CHANNELING EMOTION (9-10).

Exposure to Jesus left these fishermen “seized” (enclosed, completely taken hold of) with “amazement” (9). It made them “fear” (10). Others felt emotion like this who were exposed to Jesus’ power and preaching, and they audaciously reject Him (4:22-30; 8:26-39). These four men, amazed and afraid, will be prompted by this to make the life-changing (and life-giving) choice to follow Him. I have seen people in Bible studies and in their pew who realize the truth of the gospel, showing (and even telling of) remorse, dread, and anxiety over their lostness, but who just cannot make the decision to deny self and follow Jesus. I cannot think of a greater tragedy. In my own life, it is not simply enough to feel sorrow over my sin. I must allow this to move me to obedience (2 Cor. 7:9-11). 

DISCIPLESHIP REQUIRES RADICAL CHANGE (11).

Luke will record several positive examples of people whose encounter with Jesus is transformational! Think the sinful woman (7:36-50), the demoniac (8:26-39), the grateful leper (17:11-21), and Zaccheus (19:1-10). Some, though, were just not willing (18:18-27). Luke records multiple occasions where Jesus warns that discipleship requires radical change (cf. 9:57-62). Other writers will contrast it as putting off the old man and putting on the new man (Eph. 4:22-32; Col. 3:5-17; Heb. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:1ff). Here, Luke simply relates how that they immediately left everything and followed Him. While that may not be a literal necessity today, we cannot hope to have eternal life while holding onto this life so much that we are not following His will. 

These men were about to see things they could not have imagined, experience highs and lows they did not know existed, and be given opportunities they could not have anticipated. It wasn’t going to be an easy life; in fact, it would demand everything they had. But it gave them something only Jesus could give them. This hasn’t changed. If we want what they received, we must do what they did! 

Will You Serve God For Nothing?

Will You Serve God For Nothing?

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Dave Eubank

Recently at the suggestion of some teachers and podcasts I listen to, I took some time and in one setting read through whole books in the Bible. If you haven’t done this I would highly recommend it. Just read through the book not looking for anything or zeroing in on any specific point; just read through the book and let it teach you its main themes and allow it to speak for itself. One of the books I recently read through and want to briefly discuss is the book of JOB. We are very familiar with this book and story and can learn a lot of things from it including sufferings, patience, steadfastness, God’s perspectives, and others. However, I would like to share with you what really stood out and stayed with me as I read through the 42 chapters of this book. Job 1:8-9 says,

Then the Lord said to Satan “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So, Satan answered the LORD and said, Does Job fear God for nothing?

Right there is the true question: “Will you fear and serve God for nothing.” It is not only a question that Satan asks the Lord referring to Job, but it is also for us today. Satan was assuming that Job would have a transactional relationship with God, that as long as he was doing what was righteous that Job would assume that he has earned his blessings or somehow God is obligated to bless him. Do we fall into this mindset that Satan is stating her is verse 9? Is it easy to fear and serve God while things are going good in our life or for fear of punishment? Do we have this transactional relationship that says I have done all these righteous X’s so I deserve these Y’s (blessings)? Would we serve God if everything (wealth, family, health) in an extremely short period of time was taken from us and we were in the situation Job found himself in? Satan is saying that taking comforts of this life away will push even the strongest to curse God to his face. Satan states this in Ch 1:11 and notice that as early as 2:9 Job’s wife actually uses the same language when she tells Job, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Sometimes bad things happen because we make bad decisions and we must deal with those consequences. However, Job shows us that sometimes bad things happen outside of our decisions and we do not know all like our Creator GOD. God lays this out in his answer to Job out of the whirlwind in Chapters 38-42 basically stating that, “I created everything and have it all under My control, I AM GOD, even when you don’t realize it and so you must trust Me no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.” In chapter 42 we read exactly what Job did in response to God’s challenge to Job. Now as he repents and fears God he is in dust and ashes. This is the definition of serving God for nothing. Every worldly comfort had been taken from him and he had nothing, not even physical health, and nothing as of yet had been restored to him. But he through great tribulation feared God for nothing except he is God the creator and sustainer of everything.

We do need to serve God just because he is God and the creator of all things but the good news is we don’t serve him for nothing. Read Job 19:25: For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth; Just as we read Job and see his longing for a mediator between him and God, we now have that through Jesus. God gives us eternal life that can be found in Christ our mediator, not because we deserve it like a transactional agreement but because He is a benevolent, gracious and loving God.

Focusing In Worship

Focusing In Worship

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

As humans we have a hard time when it comes to focusing. Attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Goldfish have an attention span of about 5 seconds. I’m convinced that mankind will one day be on the same level if nothing changes. 

While focus in our everyday lives can be a struggle, what about in worship? How can we improve our focus when we come together each week? Before we even assemble, we should be preparing to focus on worship. 

Isaiah 29:13 says, “…Because this people draw near with their words, And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.”

They drew near to God with words, just like we do in singing songs each Sunday. 

They honored God with their lips, much like we do in our prayers each week. What they were saying sounded good! But, if our hearts are not in worship, we have failed God. 

Isaiah writing on God’s behalf says that their “reverence consisted of tradition learned by rote.” This word reverence is the the Hebrew word for “fear.” You may have heard that every time you read the word “fear” in the Bible to replace it with the word “respect” or “reverence.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Hebrew language has a word for respect, and this isn’t it. It means literal fear. 

In fact, the Greek equivalent of this word is Phobos, which is where we get our English word phobia. For example, if you have arachnophobia you have a fear of spiders. If you saw a spider crawling on your leg, and you are afraid of spiders, you’re not going to look at it and go, “I respect you.” That’s not how fear works; you’re going to use any means necessary to dispatch the threat. 

So we are supposed to worship in fear? YES. 

Focus out of fear and awe of WHO we are worshipping. We are singing to the creator. 

We are praying to the God who parted seas, spoke the world into existence, and guided the Israelites with a pillar of fire. We are worshipping the King of Kings, the Great I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the One with no beginning or end, we are bowing down before the Most Holy God of the Universe. 

If we realize what we are doing in worship, we can’t help but feel a little fear. Isaiah says, their worship was done through traditions learned “by rote.” This literally means, “Mechanical or habitual repetition.” We may be physically singing and look like we are worshipping God, but only the individual and God above know what is going on in the heart. 

Isa. 12:5 “sing to the Lord.” This requires FOCUS, not mindlessly singing songs. 

There are songs for each other, and songs directed toward God. “I want to be a worker for the Lord” …do we mean it? We can’t sing “Stand up, stand up for Jesus” on Sunday when all throughout the week all we’ve done is sit down. Focus on the words. 

God would rather hear a tone deaf person who sings with their heart and mind, then a classically trained singer who only focuses on what it sounds like to them. Sunday morning worship comes once a week; it can be easy to let it turn into a mindless habit. Train your mind to focus on every act of worship. Don’t let worship become something we do out of tradition or habit. Focus on WHO we have come together to worship. 

Four Waves On The Sea Of Life

Four Waves On The Sea Of Life

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

For whatever reason, I have been fascinated with stories of maritime disaster. I have read about the Titanic, but have even read more closely about the Lusitania, the Edmund Fitzgerald, the HMS Hood (for more, click here), and more. Perhaps few things could conjure up more fear than the thought of being thrust into a cold, deep ocean with no way to stay afloat, subject to attack and almost certain drowning. Poets have drawn upon such imagery, but so do the psalm writers. Read Psalm 42:7 or Psalm 69:2, 14-15 or Psalm 88:7. It is also the way Psalm 130 begins.

It seems to me that the writer is depicting the rolling waves we encounter in life, the ups and downs and the good and bad. How will I respond when I am in the storm, whether a literal storm, a storm others bring upon me or a storm I bring upon myself? What will I do when the winds have subsided and the storm has passed? Let’s look at this psalm as depicting four successive waves. 

APPREHENSION: Our Cries And Supplications (1-2)

(Wave One)

We find the writer in a watery valley, looking up at a high, but descending, wave. It causes him to cry out and voice his pleas and supplications. The crisis may be financial, medical, familial, personal, or spiritual. It may seem like the world is crashing in on top of you. Do you sink in waves of worry, fear, and doubt? Or do you cry out to God for help? The writer sets an example for us, when we feel like we will be buried by trouble!

TRANSGRESSION: Our Iniquities And Unforgiven Sins (3-4)

(Wave Two)

Though the writer moves away from the metaphor, the idea continues. When you wade in the ocean and reach a shelf, you can no longer put your feet on the bottom. You can sink or swim, but you cannot stand. Verse three asks, “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” The question is rhetorical, but a lifesaver is thrown! “But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.” Perhaps better imagery is to see the Omnipotent Hand of God reaching into the deep, grabbing our outstretched, up- stretched hand! Perhaps self-inflicted trouble, our sins, cause us to sink deeper than any other trouble. 

EXPECTATION: Our Waiting And Hoping (5-7a)

(Wave Three)

Perhaps we could envision this as one floating to the top or having their head come up out of the water. The writer uses two significant, connected words–“wait” and “hope.” Help is coming! Just wait. Hope. You’re trusting, praying, studying, serving, and enduring. Maybe you feel like you’re holding onto a splintered plank that’s separating in the aftermath of your shipwreck, but you hear the sound of the rescue vessel humming on the waters. You know Who is at the helm, so you hang on!

REALIZATION: Our Mercy And Redemption (7-8)

(Wave Four)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could be coaxed off a massive barge onto a rickety rowboat. But, most of us would make the exchange in the opposite scenario. Yet, the world clings to the leaky carrier of lostness when the ship of salvation is within reach. The writer calls heaven’s help “lovingkindness” and “abundant redemption.” This is the way I want to view the tumultuous waves of this world, from the safety of God’s saving grace. Resting in His everlasting arms, I can experience confidence and assurance at life’s worst while keeping my focus on Him at life’s best! 

You are probably facing, enduring, or looking back at one of those first three waves right now. We sometimes singing, “Jesus, Savior, pilot me over life’s tempestuous sea; Unknown waves before me roll, hiding rock and treacherous shoal, chart and compass came from Thee, Jesus, Savior, pilot me.” We are echoing the sentiments of the psalmist in Psalm 130. Wherever you are in life, be sure you are letting Him lift and lead you! It’s the only way to reach eternal safety (John 14:6)! 

Fears Are Funny

Fears Are Funny

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

Do you remember what any of your childhood fears were? Maybe you never really grew out of those fears.  I can remember a number of phobias I had as a child but one of them was not arachnophobia. In fact, me and my younger brother would collect spiders from the backyard and put them all in a container in our bedroom. At night we would put a flashlight behind a clear cage and watch all the spiders make their webs— occasionally fight each other. I don’t believe mom ever discovered this little secret. For some reason as I grew older (more mature) I developed a fear of spiders, despite having played with them often as a young kid.

Fears can be funny like that. They can come from bad experiences or just somewhere in the back of our minds. There’s a lot of fear in the world today!

One of my favorite psalms in the Bible is Psalm 46. We read about what seems to be those worst case scenarios, but God still reigns over all. What if the earth gives way? What if the mountains are thrown into the sea? What if the wrong man becomes our new president? What if this virus never goes away? Even so, we have no reason to fear. God is bigger than our fears. We serve a Being with that much power and it should fill us with courage. What are you afraid of? 

Why Do We Sin?

Why Do We Sin?

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

 
Have you ever wondered why someone would take the life of another human? Or destroy another man’s property? Or kidnap a child? Or abuse their spouse? I can never wrap my head around why someone would do something so sinful. I understand why someone would cheat, lie, or gossip. I can see why someone would do something like this because it’s a temptation that I understand. But the bottom line is that a sin is a sin.
 
Cheating on a test will separate you from God just as quickly as murder. Gossip will ruin a relationship with God just as quickly as robbing a gas station. Granted there are earthly consequences that make one sin seem more serious than another, but God sees all sin  as just that, an action that goes against His Will.
 
Why do people sin? What is it about mankind that makes us want to sin? Why does the murderer take a life? Why does the liar refuse to speak the truth? There are a couple of instances I can look back on and think, “Why didn’t I just do the right thing?” When we sin we do it because we believe it to be the easier choice. If we lie we don’t have to face the hard truth. If we cheat we don’t have to put in the work of being honest. If we lust we don’t have to practice self control. Why do people sin? In most instances we sin because it’s easy, because it’s what we want to do.
 
In Romans 3:3-8, Paul is refuting the arguments of men that are claiming that we should sin more. These men reasoned that grace comes because of sin, more sin requires more grace, grace is a good thing, and, therefore, we should sin more to receive more grace. Paul responds to this claim with 3 arguments:
  1. On what basis does God inflict wrath (5)?
  2. Is He unjust for judging the world (6)?
  3. Sinners should be congratulated for being the object of God’s Grace (7).
If more sin was a good thing, then why not just preach “do more evil” so that “good may come”?
 
Since we can’t argue that more sin equals more grace, why do people continue to sin? The answer is simple. Romans 3:18 says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” The underlying reason that people sin stems from a lack of fear in God. We live in a fearless world, and it shows. Fearing God is understanding Who He is and what He can do. Those who fear God try to avoid the things that make God angry. If we lose our fear of the Almighty we open the door to a sinful lifestyle.
 
The world says being fearless is a good thing, but we must never lose our fear of God.
“I Can’t Come To Church Because Of Covid”

“I Can’t Come To Church Because Of Covid”

(Tuesday Supplement. Note: I am well aware that there are those who are immunocompromised and cannot attend. This is not in any way meant to discourage or dishearten those in this condition. God knows and understands.)

Neal Pollard

Covid has touched nearly every family I know, including my own. It would be foolish to say that it is harmless. It has claimed nearly 5 million lives as of today. So, I have heard from many good, thoughtful people, this statement: “I can’t come to church because of Covid.” Please accept that with deep, genuine love, there are a few questions that need to be asked alongside of this.

Are we being consistent? Are we still going to the grocery store, the restaurants, the beauty shop, the office, the classroom, the gym, and the doctor? Chances are at least as great that we will contract Covid in one of those places as at church. People are not more clean or careful in those places. 

Are we properly prioritizing?  Perhaps we see the stores, the job, the school, and the medical as essential and necessary. Jesus puts our spiritual health and that of His body above all else (Mat. 6:33; 16:26). How could we conclude that any of these others are more important than His kingdom?

Are we considering others? Perhaps we console ourselves by saying that we’re getting what we need by watching Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, or wherever services are live-streamed. But, worship and Bible class is not simply about our being fed. We must consider one another to stimulate unto love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). That is said in connection with assembling together (Heb. 10:25), and how is this done by one who stays away from the assembly?

Are we weakening our spiritual strength? Is it getting easier to stay away or opt to just catch it on the phone, computer, or TV when we don’t feel like coming? Are we losing our desire to be with God’s people? Isolation has many effects, some more subtle than others.

Are we assessing our fears? Those who are waiting for Covid to go away will be waiting years or longer. This is a virus. Scientists doubt that it can be eradicated. It spreads too quickly. Perhaps it will be like Polio or smallpox, but how long will that be? Will we stay home for years? Meanwhile, where will be, spiritually, years from now if we have disconnected from our spiritual family? 

After 18 months, perhaps it is time to do some serious reevaluating? Instead of only allowing news outlets to be our guide, we need to balance that with careful study of God’s Word. Instead of considering just this life on earth, we should balance that by considering this life is for preparing for eternity. We need to be back together–all of us, now more than ever. 

The Art Of Excuses

The Art Of Excuses

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

 
Someone once said, “Excuses are tools of the incompetent, and those who specialize in them seldom go far.” Ben Franklin is quoted saying, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
 
Jeremiah had a complete list of excuses ready when God called on him to be a prophet to the people of Israel. Many times the excuses of Jeremiah become ours when we are called on to be a preacher to this world. We see that with every excuse Jeremiah made, God gave promises in return.
 
First, Jeremiah said, “the task ahead is difficult.” God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5).  Notice what God says to Jeremiah: “I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” The task ahead is difficult, so Jeremiah gives off a list of excuses for why he isn’t the one for this job. God gives a promise for Jeremiah’s excuses; He says, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” God knew that Jeremiah was the one for the job, even if Jeremiah didn’t think so.
 
Second, Jeremiah said, “I don’t have the talent.” Jeremiah 1:6 says, “Then I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” Many times people blame their cowardice on lack of talent. They say that it isn’t a natural talent to them, that there are others more suited for the job; but God knows Jeremiah and the great good he can accomplish. In Jeremiah 1:9, God promises that He would put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth.
 
As Christians today we have these same promises for our worries and excuses. Let’s not blame our cowardice on a lack of talent. That isn’t a good excuse to God. Nothing is. God has promised He will be with us, and we have HIS Word to teach to others. Let’s trust in that.
The Bystander Effect

The Bystander Effect

Friday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

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David Chang

In the neighborhood of Queens, New York City, 1964, a young 28 year-old woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death right outside of the apartment building where she lived. The reason this criminal incident is so well known is not because of the murder itself—as shocking as it was. The murder of Kitty Genovese is infamous because of the failure of every single one of the thirty-eight or so bystanders to take action to either stop the murder or call for help. Thirty-eight. Thirty-eight people were reported to have either seen or heard the murder happen, and yet not one person stepped in to help—or even called the police. Thirty-eight bystanders watched or listened on as Kitty’s life was taken from her that day.

This incident later became the foundation for the Bystander Effect or the Genovese Syndrome. Social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley, who popularized the Bystander Effect, attribute it to two factors: diffusion of responsibility and social influence. Diffusion of responsibility basically means that the more “bystanders” there are, the less personal responsibility an individual will take on. The reason teachers love small-groups is because it is harder for individual students to diffuse responsibility among a smaller group. It’s also the same reason students don’t like small-groups, because they can’t just hide in the crowd. They have to interact, answer questions, etc. Then there is the social influence, which basically means that you will do whatever the other bystanders are doing—or not doing. In the example of Kitty’s murder, those 38 bystanders saw no one else doing anything. Even though a murder was happening right in front of them, they failed to break the conformity of that immediate circle of thirty-eight people.

How many times have we done this in our faith life? How many times have we told ourselves that we can just hide in the crowd and not have to take action? How many times have we been so afraid of stepping out of line or going against the grain that we fail to live the way we are called to live? Let me ask you, how many times did Jesus step out of the social influence, the conformity of his religious peers, and the diffusion of responsibility among the crowd—to reach out and help those who are in need? He saw them as souls having value, rather than just another outcast of society. Jesus healed the sick and the blind. The blind man at Bethsaida (Mk. 8:22-26) and Bartimaeus outside of Jericho (Mk. 10:46-52). He treated women and children as if they were creations of God rather than some property or second class citizens. He healed them and welcomed them (Mk 5:21-43, Mt. 19:13-15, Lk. 7:11-17). He approached lepers, the ultimate example of social outcasts, and treated them with civility and mercy (Mk. 1:40-45, Mt. 8:1-4, Lk. 5:12-16; 17:11-19). He touched them and healed them, something not even the priests would have dared to do. Jesus subverts our expectations at every turn, and he breaks conformity at every opportunity. He is not paralyzed at the sight of someone in need; he springs into action, and continues to work even today. When we are helpless and in need, our cries do not fall on deaf ears—not as long as Jesus is alive. And he is alive and working today.

We are called to be like Christ, and part of that calling is to break free from conformity and social influence (Rom. 12:2). We are not called to hide in the crowd. Never should our personal responsibility of righteousness and good works be diffused among the crowd. We must not have a “someone else will take care of it” mentality…ever. 

I wonder if there were any Christians among the thirty-eight bystanders who watched and listened as Kitty Genovese was killed. May we never just be another bystander. May we never let evil and falsehood prevail in our presence. I pray that we all will work to break free from the paralysis of the bystander effect, and take action, every one of us, for Christ and his Kingdom.

You know, there is a positive aspect of the Bystander Effect. Just as people are negatively affected by the diffusion of responsibility and social influence, even those can be flipped to have a positive effect. All it takes is a few people to break that social influence, and spring into action. Then the other bystanders will be pulled to spring into action themselves. It is contagious. When those few break out, it breaks the spell of the bystander effect. 

Christ calls all of us to be those few who will break the paralysis. However, we cannot break the conformity while still being a part of the world. We must first break away from the world and become one with Christ through repentance and baptism. Even after that initial step, the job is not done. As a Christian, we cannot just return to standing in the crowd as a bystander. Do not be a bystander; an onlooker; just another body in the endless sea of spectators. Remember that Jesus never froze up at the sight of suffering or need. As Jesus first broke through to reach us while we were still in sin, let us also break free from the paralysis of the bystander, and spring once more into action.