So let me tell you what kind of friends I have – I was playing Left 4 Dead with three of my favorite gaming buddies one night and having a very good time with it. For the uninitiated, this is a shooter where up to four people cooperatively battle their way across various stages that are filled with a variety of zombies, and your goal is to cross each level and survive until you reach a safe house, at which point all characters safely inside the room pass into the next warzone. What’s better than facing down a zombie apocalypse with a shotgun and three of your favorite friends, frantically racing to safety? Well, let’s get back to those friends, shall we?
|…I was limping slowly as I made my way towards safe harbor. And then it happened.|
We were racing through an area in which we had already fallen and revived each other multiple times, mostly due to the mortifying tendency of one of our team members who pointlessly chose to shoot any cars we came across until their alarms would go off, which he found hilarious. Apparently this causes an immediate reaction with the undead, as they would rush to the scene to insure that their vehicle was not being stolen. Once they had been satisfied that their car was where they had left it, they would return to their regularly scheduled program, which consisted of chasing us to ask us why we set off their car alarms. As we ran away from yet another pack of enemies swarming towards us, one of my compadres saw the safe house in front of us and screamed at us to get inside. Unfortunately for me, I had been wounded during the chase, and my character was limping at an exceptionally slow rate as I made my way towards safe harbor. And then ….it happened.
I was mere seconds from squeezing safely into the confines of the safe house when one of my friends yelled through his headset “You’re not going to make it!!!”, and in an act of selfish self-preservation proceeded to close the safe house door on me. This left me to fend for myself against the undead horde in my severely weakened state. Needless to say, my final stand was shorter than the line for the next Two Worlds launch. I still contend to this day that I would have made it inside safely if the door had simply remained open for me, and there was a considerable falling out between me and this young man, with whom I promptly left every possible form of negative feedback available for on his Xbox Live account. We eventually reached a point of civil conversation, but our days of gaming together were ended due to “irreconcilable differences”.
Have you ever felt that way? In desperate shape, limping along as best you could, beaten down through no fault of your own, only to look up and find that the very people you assumed would help you are more than happy to pronounce the death sentence for you? Well, believe it or not, you are not alone. As Jesus illustrates in the very famous Bible story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37, God is familiar with the hard luck case. So often we hear this story of the person who was helpful, but today let’s focus on the beaten man, as this is as much his story as it is of the man who helped him. This is a man who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, minding his own business when suddenly he is robbed, beaten, stripped of clothing, and left 4 dead.
|…he simply walked to the other side of the road.|
It would be nice if the first person who came by saw him and immediately came to his aid. It’s what we would expect, right? And as fortune would have it, on this very road a priest, a man of God and church leader, was walking by. Certainly this man had not only a moral, but a spiritual obligation to help a man so clearly in need. At the very least, he could call 911, right? Apparently not – perhaps he was late for church, or maybe he had an important meeting he could not miss… we will never know how he justified his next action to himself. The man who claimed to speak for God himself simply walked to the other side of the road and did not concern himself with this poor, abandoned soul. How sad of a state this is, that even to this day many are ignored the most by the very church leaders they should expect to receive the greatest comfort from! Has this happened to you? Don’t worry my friend; this safe house door isn’t closing until you are safely inside!
The next individual along the road had just as great an obligation to help, as a church worker also happened to be travelling down this very same path. This is not a simple matter of ignorance to the man’s condition – the story clearly states that he looked over, saw the man, and still passed by on the other side of the road. As this man lies dying, he sees two potential opportunities for being saved, only to have his hopes horribly crushed by those he should have been able to depend on the most. In my game session, I would have understood if I was playing online with complete strangers and they left me behind – as a matter of fact I would have expected it. What upset me the most is that it came from someone I did not expect – someone I had trusted and call “friend”.
|He has literally DIED on your behalf so you can enter the safe house!|
So before you look at this story and only see the character of the Good Samaritan, consider the unnamed, helpless, anonymous man on the side of the road. I have been this man, many times over. Have you? Have you been mentally beaten, pushed to the edge, and abandoned on the roadway of life? Have you been treated badly by the people you trusted most for spiritual leadership and guidance? Have you been left 4 dead? While I can sadly assure you that this is an all too common experience, I can also happily inform you that there IS a Savior that will faithfully carry you all the way through the safe house door!
My trust in my friends was misplaced – not because they are bad people or even bad friends, but because they are in point of fact PEOPLE, who will by nature do selfish things that let us down. This does not mean the actions of those in this story are condoned, as all will answer for the actions they have taken in this life. What it DOES mean is that you have someone you can trust as your co-op partner in life that will NEVER let you down, who has literally DIED on your behalf so you can enter the safe house! Jesus is always ready to join your game, guarantees a lag free connection, and while you will still have a horde of enemies each day you must face, you will never face them alone. Invite Him to a private chat today – He is always online and He is waiting just for you.