Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Seek and Save the Lost

Luke 19:10

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

RayMcDWhen I read that passage this morning I thought of this passage – Matthew 9:12 – On hearing this, Jesus said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

I believe at times the church forgets our vision or purpose.  At First Church our mission or purpose is to bring people into environments where they can encounter Christ, build people up in their knowledge and understanding of Christ, and send people out to serve Christ. We want to bringbuild – and send. We want our focus to be on Christ. We want to focus on those who don’t know Christ – those who know Christ and need to know more – and going out to spread the message or Gospel of Christ. It is a full circle of bringbuildsendbring.

Jesus instructed His disciples this way – as part of His final instructions to them. Matthew 28:19 – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Now one could argue that becoming a disciple is more than being saved – but the indication when you talk about all the nations – or even Israel – is that they were unsaved (there weren’t too many Christians at the time of this statement!).

So here are a few questions for pastors and lay leadership. What is our church doing to reach the unsaved? Are our churches seen more as a hotel for the saved or as a hospital for the unsaved? Are we reaching out into the community looking for the wounded that have little hope or are we just hoping they come to us? If a real hospital only served those who could get themselves to the hospital – many would die. They have rescue services that go out and give immediate care while bringing the people to the hospital – with lights flashing and at high speed. How is the church reaching out and bringing people into environments where they can encounter Christ?

Here is a famous story that fits so well with this thought today.

The Story of the Lifesaving Station

On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and 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. 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 money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little lifesaving station grew.

Some 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 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 now 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 decorations, and there was a miniature 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, and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck 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, since they were 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 voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

If a church fails to focus on the primary mission of the church – reaching the lost – it will eventually die. A church cannot sustain itself without reaching others with Christ. Members will age – and die – and without others to take their place (or come alongside of them while they are alive) – the church family at a particular location will dry up and die. We MUST reach out to the lost and bring them into an environment where they can find Christ. We MUST build up those already in the church. And we MUST go out to find others to bring to Christ. We must be a missional church – not a social club for the elite or those already here!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

September 16, 2016 - Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Send, Theology | , , , , , , , ,

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