During the month of February I briefly want to look at the four aspects of our life together as a church that are highlighted in our vision statement. What we are seeking to do as a church and why the Bible says this is an important thing for us to be doing.
This week I want to look at the third aspect of our life together as a church.
Reaching people to know Christ
On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut. There was only one boat. But the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Many lives were saved by this wonderful little lifesaving station, so it became famous.
Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station, and give of their time and their money and their effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought – new lifesaving crews were trained – and the little lifesaving station grew.
Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots and beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building.
Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering-place for its members. They decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely because they used it as a sort of club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in the club’s decorations, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club held its initiations.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty, and sick. Some of them had black skins, and some had yellow skins. The beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a shower-block built outside the club where the victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a “lifesaving station”. But they were finally outvoted, and told that if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station a little way down the coast: which they did.
As the years went by the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old one. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that coast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.
If we as a church are not outward looking, seeking to rescue the lost then we have lost the focus Jesus gave us. If we do not have a love of the lost then we do not have the mind of Christ.
Col 4:5-6 say, “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders, make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be full of grace seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer every one”
We do not exist for ourselves and our own comfortable little religious existence. We are called to win the lost and so this is a major part of our effort as a church. To build bridges, to train people and equip them for bridge building, to share the gospel with people who want to know and train others to do likewise. Jesus final words to the church before returning to heaven had nothing to do with sit back relax and enjoy yourselves … they were concerned for the lost.