Can ANY Bystander Be An “Innocent Bystander”?!

Just last week, we talked about exactly how far WE – or OTHERS – would willing go to aid someone in need. And, just as we pondered this question, Mother Nature raised her voice… in a BIG way, with Hurricane Harvey! In the past few days, not only have we seen countless photos, videos and stories of people RUSHING to offer assistance, but now also have tangible PROOF of our basically selfless and charitable nature.

When tragedy has a face, and strikes in your own “backyard,” it suddenly becomes personal. And it certainly doesn’t hurt when these images dominate our social media feeds – where many normally “retreat” to escape the REAL WORLD!

Sadly, too often we’re content to merely be “observers” of life, those proverbial “innocent bystanders.” We’ll “react” or “heart” or “share” rather than step outside of our little comfort bubbles to actually DO or CREATE or THINK of something others will like, love or share!

Which brings us to a bit of irony, this week. While we discussed World Humanitarian Day last week and the toll on those who freely serve, coincidentally, this entire month is Bystander Awareness Month. And thinking about this idea took me down an interesting path. Honestly, how often do we choose to turn a blind eye to any “unpleasantness” around us? Sometimes it’s easier to ignore it, hoping it will just go away.

Now, just let me say I’m as guilty as the next person. And while I still try to nurture a servant’s heart, I frequently fall WAAAAY short. But sometimes, I’d just rather not deal with the person holding a sign at my freeway intersection. When a commercial comes on TV showing a Third World country needing aid, I’ve been known to turn the channel. Yep, I’ve even swiftly deleted emails containing urgent pleas for assistance. I’m not perfect; none of us is perfect. We’re just works-in-progress. Fortunately, I’ve got the BEST artist molding me – God!

Doing NOTHING Does NOT Make Us “Innocent”

And HE’S pretty clear about the idea of being a “bystander” in life… OR our hearts. “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:14-17)

The Bible says, in no uncertain terms, doing nothing makes you just as guilty as intentionally sinning! If we choose to be bystanders, ignoring needs around the corner or around the world, we betray our sacred covenant with God.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne… Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:31, 34-40)

Are We Holding Up OUR End Of The Bargain?

He delivers us provision, protection and unconditional love. He sacrificed His only Son for our sins. He promises us an eternity in His glory. All He asks in return is daily devotion to His mission… faith in ACTION. And after seeing the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, accompanied by the unimaginable outpouring of love and support, it simultaneously diminished AND boosted my faith and hope.

Maybe because I grew up on the Gulf Coast; maybe because I have friends and family affected by Harvey; but, today I’m choosing to NOT be a “bystander!” And regardless of what makes any need “personal” for YOU, fight “bystander syndrome” by resolving to do something. Because just standing by and ignoring the desperate situations in our world today, make us anything but “innocent!”

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