Tuesday, November 6, 2018. In our small group, one member, Ken Hollingsworth, created an effective metaphor for dealing with people facing serious trouble. Imagine yourself calmly driving down the road when a car runs a red light and T bones you. Your car spins, hits a curb, rolls once or twice, and you hear bones break. When it stops, you feel blood dripping into your eyes. Your own blood, and when you wipe it away, it returns.
You dimly hear a siren approaching, and do you pray it’s an ambulance to provide first aid, or a police officer to determine who caused the accident? Ken suggested our role primarily is to act as spiritual EMTs. Obviously, we don’t ignore right and wrong, but lives must first be saved.
We Christians can come across as judgmental, almost taking delight in showing people their errors. Righteous indignation fills us. But maybe we first need to show love, to give aid. Ironically, the next morning I read of the shooting at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks, a town where I lived or worked for eight years. 12 innocent people were slaughtered, and more injured from bullets or broken glass as they shattered windows to escape. On the video that morning, I repeatedly saw a young man, shirtless and tatted up, with a backward baseball cap. Brendan Kelly, a follower of Jesus and a Marine, shoved several people to the floor when the shooting started to protect them. He then escorted several to safety out the back door. That’s him at the right in the pic.
He found a friend with a bad gash in his arm that bled freely, and took off his belt to stop it. When that didn’t work, he used his shirt. He could have gotten himself out, alone, with a greater chance for emerging safely. But he served as an unofficial EMT, taking care of the needs he could. When official first responders arrived, he assisted them. Shirtless. Tatted. Funky cap.
Ironically, many of us may have heard of Brendan at the Las Vegas shooting a year before. There, he shielded a girl with his body—putting himself at risk to help a stranger.
In the interests of full disclosure, I know his dad Ryan. We taught together at nearby Oaks Christian High School. We both spent time in Long Beach, and both love Joe Jost’s, a tavern unchanged since its beginning in 1924. And his son Brendan gives a model for us all.
Love. Serve. Meet needs. How we do that will vary—Brendan received training from the Marines, and not all of us do. But my default setting causes me to first look after my own needs. But Paul gives a balance, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). I’m working on changing that default.
Yes, sometimes serving as a spiritual EMT can cost us. Time. Money. Health. Our lives. So, count the cost. But meet needs. Listen to God’s quiet whispers.
Kick Starting the Application
Think about your default setting on looking after your interests or others. With 1 being all you, with 10 being all others, where do you land? Why contributes to that? Do you think God is satisfied? And remember, if we don’t look after our needs, we can’t help others. Develop two practical steps this week to improve your score, in whatever direction God would desire.