Jump Start # 2882
Galatians 6:10 “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Israel is a small country but the landscape is very different from north to south. There are places in Israel that are very green with olive, banana and fig tree plantations. Then there are places that are arid, hot and desert. The attraction to Israel is not the landscape but what happened on that land. It is called the “Holy land,” and “the Bible lands” because of the majority of Biblical events took place in and around Israel. Because of that, there are many churches that are built above what is believed to be sacred locations, such as the place of Jesus’ birth, His burial, where He spoke the sermon on the mount.
One such place is the church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is located in what is known as the “Old City” of Jerusalem. Deep within this church building is thought to be the tomb where Jesus was laid after His death. Six different religious orders control this site, including the Greek Orthodox, the Armenians. In the 1700’s a worker placed a ladder outside a window. No one really knows much about that story except the six different orders cannot agree upon whose responsibility it is to remove the ladder. So, three hundred years later, there is a ladder outside that window. We saw the ladder. At a place that is supposed to be the tomb of Jesus, who died to unite all people with God and whose prayer was for the unity of all believers, there remains a ladder. A memorial to the reality of stubbornness, a lack of cooperation and division. Is it any wonder that some are fed up with religion because we act so differently from the Savior and His spirit.
I immediately thought of this old poem when I saw the ladder by the window:
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
And, just how many ladders are left outside windows because no one takes it upon himself to do something about it. Not real ladders, but jobs to be done at home and in the congregation. There is trash in the parking lot. We see it. We tell others about it. We complain about it. But when we walk away and leave the trash there, we’ve just put a ladder up by a window. It’s not our job, we say. And, unless the Lord sends a strong breeze, that trash will remain.
But greater than trash in the parking lot, are souls that are neglected because, “I’m not one of the elders.” Someone could use some encouragement. Someone could be helped by a visit. Someone needs some godly council and advice. We see it. It’s obvious, like a ladder outside a window. But no one steps up. No one does anything. A weak faith slowly dies. A damaged marriage falls apart. A teen gets mixed up with the wrong crowd and gets into some serious trouble. A confused heart falls into error by following website posts that are misleading and dangerous. Everyone sees these things. It’s like a ladder outside a window. Hard to miss. But, like the ladder, no one takes on the responsibility to do anything about it.
What can we learn from the ladder outside the window:
First, I do not need a title to get involved and help others. One doesn’t have to be a shepherd, deacon or preacher to do good. You know what needs to be done. You see it. You can sit back and wait for others, as they do the same thing, and a soul is lost, because no one did anything. Passages such as Galatians 6:1 and 1 Thessalonians 5:14 are not addressed exclusively to the leaders of the congregation. Anyone who is spiritual and anyone who has a heart that cares can step up and encourage and influence for what is right. We remember the words of Isaiah, “Here am I, send me.”
Second, we can make simple things complex by overthinking, and making mountains out of molehills. I wanted to climb up on that ledge and just remove that ladder myself. Had I done that, I’d probably still be in Israel awaiting trial by six different religious orders. We do not need committees for every project. We can spend so much time in the huddle that the play is never executed. Sometimes we worry so much about what “might” happen that we don’t do anything. This is especially true when it comes to church discipline. Leaders fear what other family members might say. They try to figure out how they may react. And, in all of this, no discipline is practiced. What should be done, isn’t done.
Third, there are some things that are to be done by us as individuals and not as a church. The story of the good Samaritan doesn’t trickle down to a church helping others. That’s not the point of that passage. It is about you and I doing what we can. We are to engage in good deeds. We are to do these things without having to get a pat on the back or a shout out from the pulpit. We don’t have to tell others. There doesn’t have to be a formal declaration to remove a ladder. Far too many run their faith through the church. If things are going well down at the church house, then their faith is good. But if things are sour, their faith reflects that. Instead, our faith must be directly tied to the Lord. No matter what happens to others and what happens down at the church house, we can be strong, faithful and confident, because of the Lord. Jesus said not to let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Just do good. Do it so much that you forget what all you have done. Do it to so many people that you leave a trail of good deeds following you.
A ladder outside a window…