“I gotta live how I say I believe.” It doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily, but t’s something I’ve been saying a lot lately. It’s mainly due to my children and their struggles or downright danger they put themselves into. Ok, 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 guy in. I even used the word friend when I started writing this, but the bible never uses the word friend? It always says men.
What’s the difference? Well, it seems to me that it’s all about perspective. If I see these men bringing in their friend, that makes sense to me. I can “help” my friend see who Jesus is in my life and maybe they will be like “cool….tell me more”. Sounds great! But I checked out 5 or 6 different translations and they all just said MEN not friend.
So what might the story really have looked like? 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….four 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 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 is so close they can see it. They are 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 some are downright sprinting to be first in line at Indiana Jones. Well as these guys get to the intersection, they are greeted by someone who can’t walk.
Maybe he is calling out to Jesus because he has heard the scuttlebutt. Or maybe this guy is calling out for money? For whatever reason, they choose to do something. They see that he is laying on a blanket and they grab the corners and go. They walk for just a bit but stop. It is 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 don’t know each other. When the man is healed, he just gets up and just walks out. Maybe these guys go and have some goats milk together at the local whatever was back then, or just maybe after listening to Jesus they go their separate ways.
It seems to me this is kind of how life works. We are 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 to help people we don’t know see Jesus.
Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make that complete journey to forgiveness and healing. And every day is a new opportunity to pick up the mat of those around you. Whether they are technically a friend or not.
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 “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. Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make the complete journey, and everyone I meet is another opportunity. A new chance for me to pick up the mat and help them on their way.
That is the plan, and it is way harder to do than it sounds. But you know… gotta live how you say you believe!