Monday, April 7, 2008

Forty-three Minutes

Matthew 7:6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."

Matthew 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Matthew 10:14 "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet."

John 1:11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

John 12:48 "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day."

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(The New King James Version)

I had heard an interesting story on the radio a few months ago, back in January. It was a complete setup. An experiment created to see the reactions of busy people, in a busy world, who had the chance - the opportunity to stop for a moment in their busy lives, and listen to beautiful music. The setting was in our nation's capital city of Washington DC. And the target audience was mostly White-collared workers, en-route to their high paying capital offices, working for the nation's high class VIP's. The Washington Post created the experiment with the goal in mind to publish their findings. What the Washington Post wanted to find out is would the typical Washingtonian stop for a few minutes of their busy lives, their busy morning to hear some beautiful music? But more than that, it was a test to see if busy, modern day people would recognize one of the best classical violin players in the world. A child prodigy, Joshua Bell, now 39 is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso playing to crammed symphony halls most every week. The Post was trying to test if the context, or the
place at which Bell played, and in such a busy and inconvenient time, affected the outcome. Or what the perception of the people would be in hearing such fabulous classical music, by such a famous classical player, and if he would even be noticed, or appreciated. Also at stake was the people's priorities. It was set up purposely at a very busy time, in a very busy place only leaving literally seconds for people to first of all notice the player, the beautiful music, determine if it was convenient enough to leave a few bucks in his open case, or simply walk on by without any contact, or best of all, if people were even willing to stop for a few seconds, for a few minutes and listen.

Before the event took place, the possible outcome was asked of a famous conductor who had guessed that there would even be a need for crowd control. When the conductor was asked how much money he felt the undercover classical player might earn, he was confident that he would
earn a whopping $150. The conductor also guessed that at least 30-40 people would recognize the famous musician for who he was. And he figured that at least 75-100 people would be moved enough by the music to stop, and listen for a few minutes. Turns out, the famous conductor was quite wrong.

In the 43 minutes that Bell played, only seven people stopped and stuck around to hear Bell play, for at least a minute. Twenty seven people gave some money for a total of $32 plus change. The rest of the people who were counted, a total of 1,070 people who hurried by, never stopping, practically oblivious to Bell, and the music he played. Pretty humbling if you ask me. For someone like Bell, who is used to playing to the crowd, who is used to being recognized, as long as he's in character, in the right context, normally after his performances, was practically ignored for an hour of soul pouring performance.

The Post writer asked the age old question. "If a great musician plays great music but no one hears, was he really any good?"

This story for me had so many similarities to the life of Christ and how only a few stopped to listen. If the people had only realized who was among them, the famous Joshua Bell, whom they had heard many times in their evenings of concert goings, they would have surely stopped, listened, even asking for an autograph. The same could be said about Jesus. If the people had really known who was with them, the son of God, the creator of the universe, the savior of the world, if only they would have known, they would have treated Him differently. The beautiful music that Bell played seemed so familiar with some, while others were simply too busy to even recognize the same song they heard the week before. The beautiful words that Jesus spoke to the people, only a few realized the worth of such wonderful words, while others paid no attention to His comforting and peaceful words. The instrument on which Bell had played was a priceless antique. Christ's sacrifice was truly one-of-a kind, yet only a few knew and saw it's worth. Many other parallels could be drawn. but I invite you to read the article for yourself if you have time, or for a shorter amount of time, listen to the NPR broadcast of the short story they did on this Pulitzer winning article by the Washington Post.

Are you listening to what God is saying in His Word?


  1. Paul,

    Great thoughts here. If they only knew who he was. You and I would have just eaten him up and done whatever he wanted or needed, but we knew the end results. The sad thing is that a lot of people still see Jesus the same way. Great reminder of how we should not take him for granted.

  2. Thanks Andy. I'm also reminded of this verse: Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

    And how many times have I passed someone who unlike the violin player, was really in need of help, yet my live was too busy to stop and help.

    Such an interesting test, and sadly, this test is indicative of probably the whole country.

    I gotta do better.