Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Free to love like Jesus

Free to Love Like JesusAlan Riley

In the day in which we live, it takes a lot to shock us. We see so much sorrow, death and destruction each night on the news that after a while we become desensitized to it.
Something I saw around this time last year shocked, sickened and saddened me.I'll never forget it. Maybe you remember seeing it too.

A 49 year old woman named Esmin Green was admitted to the emergency room of King's County Hospital Center in New York for psychiatric evaluation, and she was left in the waiting room for over 24 hours. At 5:32 am, the security camera shows her collapsing on the floor. For the next 30 minutes, Ms. Green lay on the floor convulsing, moving and at one point appearing to try to get up. Hospital workers and employees came in, looked at the woman and then left. One even appeared to be looking at the television while completely ignoring the stricken woman. She stopped moving at 6:07 am.

One hour and three minutes after she collapsed, a hospital worker came into the room and nudged Ms. Green with her foot. When she got no response, the worker waited a few minutes more and then summonded help. But it was too late. Esmin Green was dead.
How could someone collapse in a hospital's waiting room and lay there for an hour until she died? How could hospital workers and perhaps other people waiting for treatment in the waiting room ignore someone who was obviously in need of help? How could people be so uncaring and heartless toward another human being?

We later heard that six workers at King's County had been fired for their failure to help Ms. Green and for their attempts to cover it up. Obviously, they should have been. But as I thought about this story, I can't help but think that to one extent or another, you and I are in some ways as guilty of neglect as those hospital workers.

Now to be sure, if someone collapsed in the hall outside my office or in the parking deck as I was walking to my car, I would no doubt act decisively to assist them and to summon help. I am sure you would do the same. But how many times recently have I crossed paths with someone who was in great need spiritually or emotionally and I ignored them just as those hospital workers ignored Esmin Green?

Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to expose the racism and elitism of the Pharisees. He also wanted to point out their lack of compassion for those in need. You remember the story... a man is attacked, beat up, and left for dead. Several religious leaders pass by the injured man before a Samaritan - a group of people hated by the Jews - stopped to help.

In those moments when we are being really honest with ourselves and with God, we know in our hearts that left to our own devices we tend to be like the Pharisees. It is when we are being like Jesus that we reach out in love and compassion to help and to share the gospel with all we come in contact with. Our culture teaches us to withdraw from and distrust those who we don't know and those who are not like us. Jesus has set us free to love like He loves.
And He reminds us that when we touch the least of these we are touching Him. When we refuse them, we are refusing Him.

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BetweenYou and Me

BetweenYou and Me