I knew the minute I heard his voice something was wrong. It was too late for him to be out for lunch and too early for him to be heading home. “Hey…,” my husband said pausing to take a breath. I could hear the road noise and knew he was driving.
“What’s wrong?” I asked him.
“I’m on the way to the hospital.” He groaned the words, and I knew the suspicions he shared that morning about having a kidney stone were correct.
I was on the way to a teacher conference and couldn’t cancel. He was an hour away from home and I knew I couldn’t get there quick, but I told him I would come as soon as I could. He spoke in between groans, and I begged him to pull over and let an ambulance come transport him the rest of the way.
Later, I texted a friend to ask her to pray for him and shared the story of his frantic phone call from the car.
“HE DROVE HIMSELF???!!” She texted me, incredulous.
My husband needed a hospital and quick.
“Church is a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints.”
Ever heard that saying? It’s truth. Now what I’m going to say next is not meant for those of you who found this post and don’t know Christ. It’s meant for you church goers, you who love Jesus, you who know all five stanzas of “Just As I Am” and could sing them in your sleep. Christian brothers and sisters, sit up, wake up and listen up! This is for you. (And by the way, it’s for me, too. I fall into this category, as well.)
When you have a friend or family member call you and tell you they are very sick, you offer to take them to the hospital or you call them an ambulance. The thought of them driving themselves, like my husband did that day, seems ludicrous. Sick people don’t take themselves to the hospital.
Imagine driving down the road and seeing a terrible wreck. You pull up and stop to see if everyone is okay. When you do, you realize that there is a man on the ground, and he is bleeding profusely. Now imagine, looking at that man and saying, “Hey dude! You need to get to a hospital. They can help you there.” And then you walk away, hop in your car and drive on.
Sounds crazy, right? But dear Christian friends, that is exactly what many of us do when our friends and family are spiritually sick. We know they need a hospital – the church. But we give them the hospital hours and then hope they get help.
It’s time we, as Christians, recognize the church as the hospital it is and realize we are the ambulance drivers. It’s our job to take these people to get help. If we truly love our neighbor, we will offer to drive him to the hospital when he is sick.
And then there are those times, when you walk up on someone who needs immediate aid, like the man bleeding out in the road. In those times, we need to be prepared to bandage wounds and put pressure on the bleeding. Ambulance drivers get people to the hospital, but they also administer aid on the way.
You and I, Christian friend, know the answer and have the cure. But too often, we keep it to ourselves. We act like the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.” Luke 10:30-31 NIV
We seethe man and chooseto walk by on the other side. Instead we need to be like the men who brought their friend to see Jesus.
“Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.” Mark 2:3-4 NIV
I’m convicted about passing out my church’s “hospital hours and location” and not offering to drive the ambulance. Would you commit to pray with me for God to open your eyes to those who need a ride to the hospital? It’s time Christ followers started letting people know the church is for the hurting, the desperate, and the hopeless. We can’t just open the doors and hope they will come. It’s time we brought people to Jesus. Will you join me?
If the church is a hospital for sinners, we need to send out more ambulances.