By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
My theme is an interesting one: talking to God on the phone. More specifically, on the cell phone. It is the result of an experience I had some time ago: one of our church members was seriously ill, and in the hospital for an extended stay. The hospital was about 85 miles from home. Although we visited her in the hospital, it was not practical to do it every day. So, in-between personal visits, I called her on the phone to find out how things were going, and to pray with her.
One day I was on a walk, and decided to call her on my cell phone. We visited awhile, and I told her I would pray for her before we hung up. To do so, I stopped on the sidewalk. It was next to a busy street, and some persons were standing not far away, and others were walking by as I prayed for that woman. During my prayer, it came to mind that those nearby who could hear me no doubt thought I was talking to God on my cell phone. They might have thought it was a very strange thing. They might have told some friends they had heard a man talking to God on his phone.
This leads to the point I want to make: things are not always as they appear to be. We often size-up circumstances and people based on how things appear to be. And we easily draw wrong conclusions because we don’t know all the facts. Sometimes our conclusions are harmless, sometimes they are very harmful. If we saw a friend driving a new car, we do no harm to conclude they got a new one, even if it was borrowed while their car was in the shop for repairs. But if we saw a recovering alcoholic’s car parked in front of a bar and concluded they had started drinking alcohol again and told someone else about it, we might have done that person great harm. Maybe it wasn’t their car, but someone else’s who has one of the same make, model, and color. Or maybe our friend wasn’t in the bar, but in a store close to the bar. What if we saw a married friend at a restaurant having a meal with another woman his age, and who gave her a hug good-bye when they left the restaurant, and heard him say, “I’ll see you tomorrow night!” ? Would we conclude our friend is being unfaithful to his wife? Would we tell that to others? Think of the harm we would do to that man and woman, if we said that to others, not knowing it was the man’s sister in town for a visit, and his wife was unable to jojn them for the meal.
We all are frail human beings who can easily make mistakes in this way. Christians are not exempt from doing so. Therefore we need to work hard at not judging circumstances and people when we don’t know all the facts. Remember, things are not always as they appear to be.
The Bible speaks to this subject, both directly and by example. For instance, we read in John 7:24 that the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” The man Job, spoken of very highly in the Bible, both by God and others who knew about him, had to endure some very severe trials in his life that were the direct result of Satanic attacks on his character. During those attacks, he lost his health and his wealth. And what happened? Some of his so-called friends told him all his problems were caused by sin in his life. Those “friends” made Job’s circumstances much more difficult by their false accusations, which were the result of not knowing all the facts. Job was not a perfect person. But his problems were not self-caused, but caused by Satan, who was out to destroy him. If you have carefully read the Old Testament account of Job’s circumstances, you know the outcome: God commended Job as a good man, and condemned his self-righteous friends.
Therefore, let me say once again, things are not always as they appear to be because we don’t always know all the facts!