We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

The Good Samaritan Experiment

In the book Wild Goose Chase (a must read for every Christian) author Mark Batterson shared a research project that captured my attention. A study was conducted by two Princeton University Psychologists that focused on the story of the Good Samaritan. First, each seminar student chosen to be part of the research was asked why he wanted to go into ministry. The primary response the students gave was that they wanted to help people. Half of the students were then given the assignment to prepare a sermon on the Good Samaritan; the other students were assigned various topics. Once the assignment was completed, the student was then told to go to a certain building on campus to present their sermon.

But there was a set up that would take the students by surprise. An actor was hired to portray someone who was mugged and left beat up in an alley. Each student would have to pass this alley. And there was one additional variable introduced by the researchers. Some of the seminarians were told to hurry because they were running late and the others were told to take their time because they were early.

The researchers uncovered a surprising result. Each student was confronted with what seemed to be a real life situation of someone in need. Only 10% of the students who were told that they were late stopped to help. 63% of the students who were told that they had extra time stopped to help.

The researchers concluded that it didn’t matter if your life goal was to help people or not. What mattered most was if you had the time and were not in a hurry. The words, “You’re late” turned ordinarily compassionate people into people who were indifferent to suffering.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18)

Published in: on November 10, 2011 at 4:24 am  Leave a Comment