A Home in Your Microwave
Dr. Jim Denison
The microwave oven for homes was first sold in America in 1952, and it’s changed our lives so much that sociologists call us the “microwave society.”
I’m old enough to remember when popping popcorn meant getting out the popper, putting in the oil, stirring in the kernels, and waiting five or ten minutes. Then the world discovered Jiffy-Pop, popcorn and oil inside the foil, ready to shake over a stove. When’s the last time you saw some Jiffy-Pop? Do you even know what I’m talking about?
Today popcorn comes in microwave bags. And we get impatient that it takes two minutes to cook.
This morning I bring you this thesis: the greatest threat to our families and relationships today is the microwave. Not in our kitchen—in our hearts.
Restaurants now have entire rooms for cell-phone users, so people can eat and work and thus save time.
“Sink Eaters Anonymous” is an actual support group for people who are so busy they eat their meals standing over the kitchen sink.
John P. Robinson, director of the Americans’ Use of Time project at the University of Maryland, says that the value of time has clearly surpassed the value of money in our society. Tell us something we don’t know.
As we begin looking at relationships today from a biblical perspective, let’s begin with their place in priorities. What does our culture value today? Doing more, faster, better, so we can have more and be more. But Jesus disagrees. According to him, our cultural values are exactly backwards. And unless we get our priorities right, our relationships will forever be wrong.
So, what should we value most today? Let’s ask Jesus.
From Jericho to Dallas
The lawyer asks Jesus the famous question: “Who is my neighbor” (v. 29). And Jesus replies not with principles but with a parable, the greatest story in all of Scripture.
A man is “going down” from Jerusalem to Jericho—2,300 feet above sea level to 1,300 below, a drop of 3,600 feet over 20 miles. This was one of the most dangerous highways in the world, and is still so today. I’ve traveled it twice, and felt safe in a bus during the day; I wouldn’t want to walk it alone, even today. Especially today.
But this man does (v. 30). And you know what happens to him.
But there’s good news—a priest is coming! The “church pastor,” the “man of God” has arrived. The man who stands before God in the temple, bringing the sacrifices of the people to him. Suppose your car is broken down in a parking lot near the church, and you see me come by. You’d expect me to stop and help, and you should.
Well, perhaps you shouldn’t. Not long ago I saw a woman trying to change a flat tire on her car outside Walgreen’s, down from the church. I stopped to help—we got the car on the jack, up in the air, and the old tire off. I was just about to put the new tire on when the jack collapsed! It was not a good thing. No one was hurt, fortunately, and my call from mechanic to minister was strongly reinforced.
Well, this priest doesn’t even stop. Why not? Numbers 19:11 says that if he touches a dead body, he’ll be ceremonially unclean for seven days. This wounded man is getting in the way of his job, his religious responsibilities. So he leaves him to die.
But all is not lost—a Levite comes by next. The man who keeps the temple, who helps the priest. A staff member, deacon, Sunday school teacher today. But he’s too busy to stop as well—he has work to get done.
In one of John Maxwell’s books, he tells about a new staff member at his church who walked by a group of people on Sunday morning to get to his office. He later confronted the man, who said, “I had work to do.” Maxwell responded correctly: “These people are your work!” This priest and Levite didn’t get it. Many of us don’t.
Finally a Samaritan comes along. Now all hope is gone.
As you know, the Samaritans hated the Jews, and vice versa. This man will probably rob what the wounded traveler has left, maybe kick him or beat him, certainly leave him to die. But no. He is “filled with pity.” He uses his own clothes to bind the man’s wounds, and pours his own oil and wine (very expensive first-century medicine) on his injuries. He puts him on his own donkey (while he walks), placing himself at the mercy of these same robbers. He brings him to the inn, pays for his room, and promises to pay any other charges the man incurs.
Imagine that your car breaks down near the church—I stop by, fix it so it will drive, go with you to the repair shop, pay for the repairs, and promise to pay for any other work the car ever needs. Has anyone ever done that for you?
Jesus says we should “Go and do likewise.” How? What does his story say to our “microwaved” homes and hearts and lives?
Choices to make today
How do we “go and do likewise”? There are several simple choices we must make today. Our first decision, foundational to all the others: value people as God does.
People are eternal; nothing else in this world is. Not our jobs, our possessions, our status or significance. One day the only real estate we’ll possess is a little piece of ground, six feet deep. And even then someone else will tend it, because we’ll be gone.
So we are commanded to value people, for only they have eternal souls. The Samaritan got this right. He valued this wounded Jew more than his clothes, or oil and wine, or donkey, or safety. He valued this man as God does.
So must we. People come before possessions. Listen to this remarkable statement from the Song of Solomon: “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned” (8:7). In other words, wealth cannot buy love. Put people before possessions.