“I gotta live how I say I believe.” It doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily, but it’s something I’ve been saying a lot lately. It’s mainly due to my children and their struggles, or the downright danger they put themselves into. Honestly? Some of it just has to do with me and my response to the world around me.
I was reading this morning and came across the story about the friends who bring a crippled man to Jesus. These guys did everything they could to get their friend into the room where Jesus was teaching. They let nothing get in their way, not even someone else’s roof. I’ve told this story and heard it many times, but something about it hit me differently today. When I tell the story to kids, we always used the word “friends” when describing the men who carried the paralytic in. I even used the word friend when I started writing this, but the bible itself never uses the word friend. It just says men.
So what’s the difference between using men or friend? Well, it seems that it’s all about perspective. If I see these men bringing in their friend, that makes sense. They love their friend, and are willing to go out on a limb for him. Or when it comes to me, I can give my friend a picture of who Jesus is, by how I live. Maybe they even think like “cool….tell me more”. But I checked out 5 or 6 different translations and they all just said MEN and it changed my perspective.
So how could the story looked a little different?
There’s a couple of guys, and they’re hurrying off to see this teacher they’ve heard about. He says the craziest things, but what they’ve heard has them thinking. I know…. men thinking…. Who would have thunk it? So either they know each other or better yet….maybe they don’t? Probably at least 2 did, and they were walking together. Maybe then a third and fourth are just walking that way too and they all converge at this intersection that is just down the street from the house. It’s so close they can see it. They’re intent on getting there before too many more people show up. Picture Disneyland when they first open in the morning. Some are walking enjoying Main Street, some are doing that funny walk/run and most are downright sprinting to be first in line at Indiana Jones. Well, somehow these guys meet, and they’re greeted by someone who can’t walk.
Maybe he’s calling out to Jesus because he’s heard the scuttlebutt. Or maybe this guy is calling out for money? For whatever reason, they choose to do something. They see that he’s laying on a blanket and they grab the corners and go. They walk for just a bit but stop. It’s really hard with just the two of them and they put him down. They’re panting, thinking “this is harder than the WOD,” and as they catch their breath a shadow falls across them. Two more men have stopped. They all look at each other and without another word they each grab a corner of the blanket, mat, whatever the guy was on and well you know the end of the story. Jesus, forgiveness and healing. The end seems to point to the conclusion that maybe they didn’t know each other. When the man’s healed, he just gets up and just walks out. Maybe these guys go and have some goats milk together at a local establishment or just maybe after listening to Jesus they go their separate ways.
It seems to me this is kind of how life works. We’re all in need of healing and could use a little Jesus to do that. Along the way people can come beside us and take a corner to help us get to where we need to be. If we see this story only through the lens of helping a “friend,” then we might miss out on all of the other opportunities God brings our way. Those chances to help people we don’t know, see Jesus.
So how does this relate to “I gotta live how I say I believe?” Well if I believe that everyone around me is someone I can help“bring” to Jesus, it should really influence how I treat everyone. Right? And that means in every situation. School, work, grocery store, politics, baseball field, FREEWAY and even in church.
It may take a long time for people to make the complete journey to forgiveness and healing. And every day is a new opportunity for me to pick up someones mat, whether they are technically a friend or not. Truthfully, it’s a new chance for all of us to pick up the mat of someone else and help them on their way.
That’s the plan, and it is way harder to do than it sounds. But you know… ya gotta live how you say you believe!