A man from a large city watched an impacting documentary on cellular phones. The documentary emphasized statistics that showed a correlation between cellular phone use and cancer of the face or jawbone. He began to have nightmares about cell phones afterward.
The nightmares haunted the man for several weeks and he began to find excuses not to use his cell phone. Whenever he did use it he was haunted by pain in his teeth or gums. His doctor and dentist showed him results indicating that his body was healthy and intact, but he did not believe it. He became so accustomed to making excuses about his phone that his bill showed no usage for an entire month, and he cancelled his subscription.
A year went by and the man adjusted to life without a mobile phone quite well. Occasionally the question or need would come up, but he found ways to deal with it that usually worked. His nightmares had significantly decreased and he felt more at ease. The pain in his gums only bothered him occasionally and did not last long. He believed that his life was no longer in danger from the convenient device used everywhere around him.
The man was on a bus and witnessed a crime. A disagreement between two men in the back of the bus turned ugly when one pulled a knife and injured the other. The bus was not full, and it appeared that the man was the only one to see the crime. A moment of terror passed through him as he debated his options and left him unable to move. As he stared at the floor, the victim’s phone slid within reach beneath his seat. His heart pounded as he stared at the phone. He knew he should use it, but he could not make himself pick it up.
The man with the knife made eye contact with him and briefly pointed the knife to him in warning to keep quiet. He knew he was in danger and knew that using the phone was possible. His fingers shook violently when he tried to reach for it and he stopped. No one would know where the phone was, he told himself. No one would blame him because he had no phone. The ride to the next stop took an eternity before it finally came to a stop and the man with the knife jumped from the bus.
Free to act, the man shouted to the driver and fellow passengers while rushing to the victim and pressing on the wound. The victim was incoherent, but roused immediately when he put pressure on the wound. Other passengers gathered around and tried to get a look at the wound and the victim. One lady asked if he had called the police already and he avoided her eyes. He informed her that he didn’t have a phone.
The bus did not continue its route, and an ambulance arrived. The police arrived to investigate the crime; but not before a reporter entered the bus and questioned the occupants while the driver was distracted. The reporter took multiple pictures of the blood and bus, and even noticed the cell phone lying under a seat. A passenger pointed to the occupant of that seat, the man now attending to the victim. The reporter saw the potential for a story and pushed for it in any way he could.
That night and in later follow-up stories the reporter described the mistakes of the witness as an accomplice to the crime. The reporter suggested that if the man had sent even a simple text message perhaps the police could have arrived sooner and the victim may have suffered less. He suggested that the perpetrator could have been caught instead of disappearing into the crowd with the knife, endangering others. It was a crime not to act, and in the eyes of the reporter, he was guilty.
The reporter contacted the witness’s family, coworkers, and friends and made a story out of the man’s refusal to use a cellular phone. One or two praised the man for his bravery. They pointed out that the victim was alive and the police had a good description to find the attacker, but those interviews were not shown. Instead, a judgmental tone and catchy statements were used to ensure the audience agreed with the reporter. The man moved less than a month later, hoping to find a job and peace elsewhere.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on the pain of being different
11 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim
In Matthew 4:13 after Galilee Jesus apparently left or passed through Nazareth and then lived for a time in Capernaum, a town on the Sea of Galilee. This is not the center of Jewish power or where only pure Jews lived, instead it has a blend of people and not exactly the place I pictured Jesus going first. I had always focused on the fact that Jesus came first to the Jew and even told this to a non-Jewish woman later. But, I am astonished to admit that no; Jesus intentionally went to a humble place with non-Jews, and lived there. I also find it extremely interesting that Jesus finds more disciples in Capernaum than I believe anywhere else.
Was there a broken hope in Capernaum among the Jews there? Perhaps being in close proximity to so many cultures and ethnic groups gave the Jews in Capernaum less certainty of their superiority and position before God. If every day you must work by, shop near, sell to, and live by someone different than you would that change you? I believe it did, and I believe that fact was also very hard on the Jews in that town. To be seen as tarnished by those who considered themselves more ‘pure’, the Jews from Capernaum must have dealt with this.
Every festival Jews from Capernaum travelled to Jerusalem. Their accent or even their clothes must have meant they were maybe treated differently or judged by their fellow Jews. They couldn’t really help where they were born or found work. Some may have said “Why Lord, did you choose to make my home near gentiles and judged like this?” Questions about painful circumstances, humility of spirit, brokenness, and the inability to change something are all catalysts God uses throughout the Bible. It may not be enjoyable, but it purifies the soul to go through trials. I believe it made the apostles from Capernaum ready to drop everything to follow Jesus. It is with empty hands, incapable of any excuse, that we come to God. It is with grace that He answers that plea.