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The church doesn’t do the bystander effect

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Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help (Proverbs 3:27).

The post The church doesn’t do the bystander effect appeared first on Lutheran Church of Australia.

by Pastor Stephen Abraham

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Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help (Proverbs 3:27).

Read Proverbs 3:13–35

It was autumn 1992. I was with a fellow uni student standing at the lights ready to cross North Terrace in Adelaide in light rain. The traffic had banked up, and a young man decided not to wait. He rushed out in front of a stationary van and was instantly hit by a motorcyclist. Both went flying in the air. Time seemed to stand still. The lights changed, and people started crossing the road – ignoring what had just happened. My friend and I looked at each other and then dropped our bags and rushed in to help. Both parties had injuries that needed hospitalisation but were non-life-threatening. Later, as I reflected on the situation, I could never understand why the uni student and I were the only people who helped while others just walked by. I now know this is a known psychosocial occurrence called the bystander effect, where individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when other people are present. But at that moment, where two people were in need, standing by and watching did not seem to gel with my faith!

Read Proverbs 3:27–32.

When I read these passages, I’m reminded of how Martin Luther expounded the Ten Commandments in the Small Catechism. It’s something I’ve always loved about them – how they don’t just tell you what not to do but what to do!

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For instance, with today’s text, the sixth commandment is relevant, do not kill. We are to fear and love God so that we do not hurt our neighbours in any way but help them in all their physical needs. (If you have time, read on with the catechism and tick off which commandments with explanation are covered in this chapter of Proverbs.)

Helping people in need was core to God’s people of old. Being a bystander was not an option! Giving aid was core to Jesus’ ministry. It was what the early church became known for in the ancient world. It’s why God’s people invented the first hospitals. It’s why we started the first orphanages. It’s why we invented Lutheran Care and Lutheran Disability Services! It’s why some of our individual churches minister to refugees or the elderly. Caring is what we Christians do! It’s in the very fibre of our spiritual being – God cares for us, so we care for others.

God of the Fatherless, God of the infirmed, God of the homeless. You reach out to us with a hand of love and care. Lord Jesus, you reached out both of your hands – and died for us. Lord, we lift up our care organisations. Bless them and their leadership. Holy Spirit, inspire us to reach out to all who need a hand. Me we be known again as the people who care. Amen.


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The post The church doesn’t do the bystander effect appeared first on Lutheran Church of Australia.

Source: Lutheran Church of Australia https://www.lca.org.au/the-church-doesnt-do-the-bystander-effect/

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