Monday, November 16, 2009
Current Study: 1 Peter
Today’s Topic: Seeking to Save
Scripture Reading: 1Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
There is quite a contrast between the declared mission of the devil and that of the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is seeking anyone so that he can devour and destroy them. Jesus is seeking anyone so that He can save them. As Christians, we claim to be partners in Christ’s mission. I propose to you today that we like the saving part of the mission and get excited when it happens, but we have neglected the seeking part of the mission.
Jesus has called us and equipped us with His Holy Spirit to carry out His mission. He told us His mission on several occasions. At the very beginning of His public ministry, in a synagogue in His home town of Nazareth, He declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” After meeting a man named Zacchaeus, Jesus stated, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” And while speaking to some Pharisees about who He was and his ministry to the world, Jesus proclaimed, “I have come that they might have life, and that it might be abundant.”
Satan, the enemy of Jesus and His followers, does not have life in mind in anything he does. He only and always seeks death. Unfortunately, many people fall for the disguises the devil designs so that death appears as life. Even Christians succumb to the devouring disguises of materialism, acceptance, and self-worth. As a result, many Christians are satisfied to put on the appearance of rejoicing when someone is saved from their sin, yet they themselves rarely participate in actively seeking the lost sinner to bring them to Jesus. Christianity has become for many the means of achieving personal security and comfort. The church has moved from being a lifesaving station that seeks the lost to an elite clubhouse with sufficient protections in place to keep dangerous people out.
I first read the following story years ago. I was reminded of it by a friend recently in an email. I used it yesterday in church to illustrate the point that we have in many ways stopped fulfilling the “seeking” portion of Christ’s mission. I share it with you today and trust that the Lord will convict your heart as He has mine. It was written by Theodore Wedel.
On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little lifesaving station. The building was no more than a hut, and there was only one boat; but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea. With no thought for themselves, they went out day and night, tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to be associated with the station and give their time, money, and effort to support the work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little lifesaving station grew.
Some of these new members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those who were saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely because they used it as sort of a club. Fewer members were not interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a memorial lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, and some of them were foreigners. The beautiful new club was in chaos. Immediately, the property committee hired someone to rig up a shower house outside the club, where 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 because they felt they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. A small number of members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. The small group’s members were voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast.
As the years went by, however, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old station. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that seacoast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore.
Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the passengers drown. No one is seeking them anymore.
My friends, we need to recover our passion for lifesaving.