The Caller ID Syndrome

by Tad Lindley

The first time I ever saw caller ID was in the mid 70s. I was at a neighbor’s house. The phone rang. My friend asked his dad, “If it’s Jack, do you want me to tell him you’re not here?” The answer would either be “Yes”, or “No”. My friend would pick up the phone, “Hello.” Pause, “Nope, sorry Jack, he’s not here.” I watched this scenario play out many times. Jack was mentally ill and my friend’s dad did not always feel like talking to him. This was in the days of dial phones with four prong jacks. We never dreamed that someday we would be able to look at the phone and know who was calling without ever having to answer it.

Caller ID Syndrome

These days nearly everybody has caller ID. It has led to a phenomenon referred to as Caller ID Syndrome, or CIDS. I have seen many people look at their caller ID screen and simply let the phone keep ringing. The beauty of it is that they don’t have to get someone else in the family to lie for them.

The problem with caller ID is that if you are the caller, and there is no answer, it leaves you wondering whether they were not home, or if they looked at the caller ID, saw it was you and let it keep ringing. In cases of extreme paranoia this can lead the caller to go to other houses so as to appear to be somebody else. I don’t fully understand it, but I know there is some sort of secret agent feature that folks get on their phone so that when they call people with caller ID their name does not appear on the screen. The caller ID folks can fight back and force the secret agent phone numbers to dial *82. It’s all a bit too technologically advanced for me; I just pick up my phone and say, “Hello.”

Fact: Jesus does not suffer from CIDS

Jesus has caller ID. When someone prays he knows who it is, where they are calling from, and what they are doing. At the same time, he is hearing prayers and praise from millions of other folks from other places on the planet. Somehow he can keep track of it all and still make us feel like we have his undivided attention. He is Jesus, he can do that.

As humans we might think that Jesus is like us and suffers from CIDS. We might even go so far as to think, “There is no point in even praying. When Jesus sees that it is me, he won’t even pick up.” Since we may have checked our caller ID and let it keep ringing, because we didn’t like the caller all that much, we anticipate Jesus to do the same. “Surely Jesus doesn’t want to hear from blasphemers, pornography viewers, drunks, dope smokers, Grand Theft Auto addicts, and the sexually immoral,” we think. “He’s got a special ringtone for church people, but what’s the use in a sinner praying?”

Friend, Jesus does not have Caller ID Syndrome. In fact, he is quicker to pick up a phone call from a sinner than from a saved person. Don’t you know that in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father was looking out every day, watching and waiting for the return of his lost boy? (Luke 15:20)

When “Sinner” shows up on Jesus’ caller ID

Nothing excites heaven like a call from a sinner. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7) Did you catch that? When an alcoholic gets sick and tired, and lays his sin before Jesus, heaven lights up. When the gambling addict spends her children’s dividend checks at the bingo hall for the last time and calls up Jesus broken and defeated, angels are celebrating. When the liar wakes up to the confusing mess of his life and cries out to Jesus, singing and shouting breaks out in the throne room.

Call him up

If you picture an angry Jesus pacing back and forth in the throne room asking the four and twenty elders, “Who is it on the prayer line? Oh, a sinner. Just let it ring,” then you’ve got it all wrong. Jesus is waiting. He is trying to stretch out time. He is desperate for your call. The Bible says Jesus is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9) If you are hurting from sin, call upon Jesus. He is sitting by the phone waiting.

Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.

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