Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bad Preacher! Bad!

In 1973 a group of Seminary students in Princeton Divinity School were given the text of The Good Samaritan to preach on. In case you didn't know, that's the story Jesus told about a guy who was beat up, lying on the road and a couple religious leaders passed him by, while a member of a cult stopped and helped, and Jesus concludes, "Go and do likewise."

What these students didn't know is that they were part of an experiment.  Oh, you sneaky social psychologists!

Each student was given a different day to preach.  Half of them were told in the last minute, just before they were to give their sermon, that the classroom changed, so they had to rush to the class.

But all of them had to pass by a person, laying by their path, clearly sick or injured (this was a fake sick person, but necessary for the experiment).

Without regard to their religious preference, 63% of those people preaching on the Good Samaritan who had plenty of time to get there stopped to help the sick person.

But of those who were in a rush to preach their sermon, only 10% stopped by to help.

What do we learn?  Two things:

1. Often we don't help people because we are too busy.  If we are in such a hurry to do our small tasks, we won't stop to do the more important matters, like helping someone in need.  How many times have we passed someone who needed our help because we had "more pressing matters"?

2. Studying and preaching the Bible means nothing unless we intend to do something about it.  If we don't love, no matter how much we know about the Bible, we are knowing it wrong.

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