The medium is the message.
Times have been rough here of late. When the homefront reels under attack and the newspaper screams out worrying headlines, sometimes it’s all one can do to get out of bed.
Last Sunday in church, our pastor spoke on entering God’s rest. That’s a difficult message to hear right now. I’m working 60-hour weeks and my family faces some tough expenditures in light of recent illnesses. Even with the private health insurance we carry, the costs will be considerable. Finding rest when that “final straw” may lurk in each new day proves easier said than done.
Amid one of the most difficult weeks of my life, I noticed that a back tire on our car was badly out of balance. After yet another visit to the doctor, I tried to squeeze in a free tire balancing at the store that sold us the tires. Free.
Sitting in the waiting room at the tire store, I watched the clock tick and wondered how we would live in the light of illness. God, what does this mean for us? How will we go on?
When the hands of the clock clicked past a few too many minutes, I investigated and found three mechanics huddled around our car. Then came the dire words: “Sir, there’s a problem.”
That problem amounted to $850 worth of repairs, not including two new tires. Hadn’t I come in for a free tire balancing? My wife and I walked out of the store, estimate in hand, stunned. We drove off in our wounded car, wondering how we could possibly pay for this pressing repair.
So I sat in church that last Sunday with the wheels coming off of life, no rest in sight.
After the service, I walked up to a man in my church whom I respect for his spiritual insights and his nearly thirty years experience in the car care field. He’s retired from the car repair business now, but he knows far more than I can ever hope to know. I asked what he thought I should do. He said he’d call a few people.
The next day, he knocks on our door. He had to run an errand in another part of the city and wanted to take our car to some folks he knows.
That night, he returns with our car. His people had taken care of the $850 problem and the tires. When I asked him how much I owed him, he said, “Don’t worry about that. I took care of it.”
Joe Carter at the Evangelical Outpost asked this question this week:
If the medium affects the message, how will the Christian message be affected by the new media?
When I reflect on my life, I can’t remember many sermons that stick out. Even the words of my favorites hymns don’t always surface in memory when I need them. I can’t remember more than hazy concepts from the blogs I’ve visited. Viral videos? Web 2.0? Dancing 3-D holograms? Heck, I can’t even tell you the movies I’ve seen in the theater in the last five years.
But I can vividly recall every single time when life beat me up and left me for dead by the side of the road and someone in the name of Jesus took me up, cleansed and bound my wounds with his or her own hands, and made certain I was cared for.
The medium of the Christian message is you and it’s me. It’s the cup we hand in person to the parched and thirsty soul.
Fifty years from now, no one will remember the name of that blogger, the genius behind that YouTube video, the author of the Web 2.0 site. Nor will we remember what all the hoopla was about.
What we will remember are those people who were there for us in tough times. Those people who invested their lives in ours by showing up on our doorstep in our bleakest hour. Those people who took the time to be Jesus for us when we needed Jesus the most.
Because 2,000 years later we still tell of the Good Samaritan. May his message—and his medium—always be our example.