An Ethics Lesson

October 11, 2018

I recently read about a story inspired by John Darley and Daniel Batson's 1973 Princeton University study.  The story, told to a university class by an ethics professor went like this: On the morning of the semester's final exam, students arrived to find a note on the classroom door indicating the room for the exam had been changed to another far across campus. They had to frantically get from one end of the campus to the other.

 

When they arrived at the new location, their professor told them they had just completed their exam. Obviously the students were perplexed, so the professor explained that he had set up several "situations" across campus that gave them opportunities to show what they had learned in the class.

 

The professor had arranged it so that on their way across campus the students passed an individual who had dropped an armful of books on the sidewalk and another was seen being verbally abused. A 3rd had been injured falling off a bike in the students' path while the 4th frantically looked for a lost child. The professor asked the students, "Did you stop to help pick up the books? Did you check to see if those who were hurt or in danger were okay? Did you join in the search for the lost child?"

 

What a powerful life lesson for these students- one more important than passing written tests or writing essays, and exactly what Jesus taught here in the parable of Last Judgment. Here's part of it.


Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me [my favorite]". 


Then these righteous ones will reply, "Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing. When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?" 


And the King will say, "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"
 

According to these words, Christ suffers in and with the needy and oppressed. If we truly desire to access the mind of Christ, we have to identify with the suffering of others and reach out to help.

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones