"but it isn't safe, and you could have your car broken into, or have things stolen. And you don't know what unsafe neighborhood is really like," my roommate replied.
"But if I want to work more with the homeless, how can identify with them at any level when I live far away in a nice suburban and 'safe' neighborhood," I countered.
"You can always travel and give them care while living elsewhere, and that will do just as much good."
I could see now that there was no point in explaining that the safest place was where I was doing the Lord's will, or that our goals in medicine were at all the same. To him affecting change was to change the physical manifestations of a set of diseases.
I remembered a very important sermon illustration I heard from my dad several times, in several different sermons:
There once was a boy who was watching an ant hill with all of its ants coming and going working very diligently not at all concerned with the boy. Suddenly a few sprinklers came on in a yard close by and the boy watch as a flood of water was coming straight for the ants. So he tried directing the ants away from the flood, but they continued around him. He then tried chasing them and scaring them, but it was to no avail. The ants simply would not listen. Finally, the boy cried out in his frustration, "Oh! If only I could become and ANT! then I could tell them of the flood and save them all!"
Now this was used to illustrate one reason in which Christ became a man, but it may also be applied to physicians. How are we to tell people of the impending flood health problems if we live away from the injured and cannot understand our patients. We must become one of them; simply put, we must be human as they are human.
As a final note, if you haven't been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Start! He is exemplifying this quality for the health of people, meeting them at their level and trying to change their lives.