Convictions and The Good Samaritian

I just finished Malcom Gladwell’s bestselling book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.  This was a great book which raised surprisingly a very interesting question about authenticity in Christianity.  Gladwell was reporting the findings of a research project done by Princeton University called the “Good Samaritan Experiment.”  This is obviously based off of the very familiar parable told by Jesus in the Gospels.  The experiment was to see how students of Princeton’s Theological Seminary would respond if they were placed into a modern-day situation that closely resembled the narrative of the famous parable.  The seminary students selected for this experiment were told that they were to give a sermon on the famous parable in a building across the campus from the seminary buildings.  Along the way the students would encounter a person who was in obvious need of help.  This would be a man planted in an alleyway who would be slumped over with his eyes closed who was coughing and moaning obviously in need of the help of a passerby.  This experiment ends up becoming the ultimate test of authenticity for the seminary students.  They were being called to practice what they would be preaching on the way to deliver the sermon.  There would be no way for a studied seminary student to draw different conclusions than Jesus does in the explanation of His parable.  Clearly if the student passed by the man in need of help, they would be fulfilling the role which the parable clearly teaches should not be filled.  The seminary students were broken down into two groups who were both told two different things before departing on their walk to the sermon.  The first group, which we will call Group A, was told that the sermons were running quicker than expected and that they were needed to come and present their sermon immediately.  The second group, Group B, was told that the sermons were running slower than expected and that they could take their time on the way to deliver the sermon.  What is interesting from the results of the experiment was that the students in Group B stopped more frequently than the students in Group A.  Another way of stating the conclusion is that the seminary students likelihood of stopping to help was more based on the amount of time that the student perceived himself or herself as having prior to the scheduled sermon.  The authenticity of the student with regard to the content and message of the sermon was totally pushed to the side in order to be on time for the presentation.  This experiment leads to results that are so true in my life and your life.  We so often become busy and driven by things that we think that we must do and be that we fail to follow through with our convictions.  We may passionately believe in sharing our faith with others, yet in the busyness of our lives, we blow by people who do not know Jesus without a passing thought.  We have a conviction and desire to show grace to others, yet we go into a fit of rage when someone cuts us off on the road or messes up our order at the drivethru.  We are so driven by our schedules and the mindset that we do not have time that it leads us to not act on our convictions and this be inauthentic in following after Jesus and His priorities.