Lending a Hand ImageCal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

There is a very cool commercial out right now that features two small kids playing little tyke hockey. The video has to do with a little girl who falls down on the ice and her teammates don’t bother to help her, but a little boy on the other team does. You can watch the actual event here. This is more than a little moving and what sportsmanship and humanity are all about in their purest form.

Which brings me to a recent story in the news; a story that is both similar, and very different. Here’s what happened.

A few weeks back, a high school cross country runner in Iowa named Zachary Hougland was the first to cross the finish line in their state’s cross country District Championship race. The Davis County High School student was the school’s first champion. It was a reward for his hard work at training.

After he crossed the line he began celebrating with his friends and coaches. Just then, he turned around and looked back at the runners heading toward the finish line. Doing so caused him to notice that another runner was on the verge of collapsing just about 20 meters from the finish line. Zach said, “His face was turning white and he was holding his chest. He looked like he was going to fall.”

Zach yelled for other runners to help, but none did. So Zach did. He didn’t know the guy, and he had no idea what school he was from. He just needed help, so Zach helped him.

Placing his arm around him he helped him get to the finish line and then stepped aside so he could finish on his own. The boy he helped was incredibly grateful and moved that someone who already finished the race (much less who won the race) would care.

Great story, right?

Except for what happened next. The Iowa High School Athletic Association stripped Zachary of his title, claiming that he was in violation of their rules. Apparently you’re not allowed to help another runner, or receive help from another runner… in any way…at any time…under any circumstances.  You can’t do this even if he looks like he’s about to pass out.

The community was outraged and demanded that the Iowa High School Athletic Association reverse their decision. They refused to do so, claiming that rules are rules.

Which comes on the heels of another story.

In September, a bully in a Southern California high school began to punch a blind student in the face. Another student, a young man on the school football team, saw what was happening and stepped into the fray and came to aid of the blind student. End of problem. Except… this young man was immediately cut from his football team which has a “no fighting” policy. No circumstances withstanding. Again, parents were outraged and demanded he be reinstated.

What’s happening to us? Whatever happened to people looking out for one another? How have we become so calloused? Why do we punish someone for trying to help?

All of this sounds a whole lot like what happened to Jesus as recorded in Mark 3. There was a man in the synagogue with a withered hand and Jesus, purely out of compassion for him, heals him. But in doing this he “breaks the rules” as he did this on the Sabbath. The rule keepers were outraged! It clearly says that Jesus himself became angry because of their hardened hearts. Jesus put people who were hurting before the rules—and this was simply unacceptable to the keepers of the rulebooks.

I want to close by reminding you of the words of Philippians 2:3-4 which says,

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

What are your thoughts regarding these situations? What does this say about us?

Lending a Hand

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