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Cripples At Church

Mark 3:2 is one of those places in scripture that remind us not everybody comes to church for the same reason. Jesus is in a synagogue and is about to heal a man with a withered hand. But the text reveals the presence of Jewish leaders who are withered in a different way. Verse two reads, "So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him." These men were not in the synagogue that day to examine themselves. They were there to examine Jesus. They were there, as the New International Version says, looking for a reason to accuse Jesus." The man with the withered hand had a problem — and Jesus healed it. But the people watching Jesus had a worse problem — they had withered hearts. The text goes on to say these Pharisees "went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus."  None of us have ever done that. But we can leave out of the church building plotting and pouting about preachers and song leaders and elders and a whole list of things we don't like. Years ago I filed away the following anonymous poem entitled 'Two Cripples.' Reading it never fails to remind me that what I bring to and take away from church assemblies is all up to me. I have to decide if the preaching and praying and singing causes me to worship or to wither.

Two cripples entered the church one day;
Crippled -- but each in a different way.
One had a body, strong and whole,
But it sheltered a warped and twisted soul
The other walked with a halting gait,
But his soul  was tall and fair and straight.
They shared a pew, they shared a Book.
But on each face was a different look.
One was light with hope and joy
And faith that nothing could destroy.
The other joined not in prayer and hymn,
No smile relaxed his features grim.
His neighbor had harmed him, his heart was sore.
He thought of himself and nothing more.
The words that were read from the Holy Book
Struck deafened ears and a forlorn look.
To one came comfort — his soul was fed.
The other gained nothing from what was said.
Two cripples left the church that day;
Crippled — but in a different way.
A twisted foot did one body mar,
But the twisted soul was sadder by far.

Dan Gulley
church of Christ
Smithville, Tennessee