A Church, a Man, a Horse, and a Gun

Unnerving events can become ministry moments. I read the other day about a man who arrived at church on horseback with a holstered gun and rifle. Seems odd enough – definitely unnerving given the cultural tide against organized faith. He actually entered the church, but was successfully disarmed by members. He was later arrested at home for public intoxication. You can read the story here.

Why do people do what they do? From the absurd to the ridiculous, we dismiss a person due to their conduct. Maybe therein lies the missed opportunity. We label a person by their behavior rather than by identifying the need. The concern for this man shouldn’t be his untimely horseback riding skills, his armed person, or his intoxicated state. What is the underlying reason, event, or hurt that triggered the inappropriate behavior? The point of greatest need isn’t the symptom; it’s the spiritual, mental, and emotional malignancy present in a man’s soul. So often it goes misdiagnosed because we’re too overwhelmed by the symptoms.

I’m reminded of the Samaritan Parable that Jesus taught. Sometimes we avoid people because of their condition – much as the Priest and the Levite did in the story. It was the Samaritan who took advantage of the ministry moment to become the neighbor, helper, encourager, and healer. I want to be more mindful of the ministry moments and to be more cautious about labels, fears, and biases. I want to be sensitive to the “real need” and not just the symptom. Don’t you?