Posted 30 Sep 2014
Cruise ship or rescue boat 01 – Liner
Quick sketch of Church as cruise ship – failing to look out for drowning people in the world.
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Meta4 Picture: Cruise ship or rescue boat 01 – Liner
“We [in Christian church] live like we are on a pleasure cruise, when we are really on a rescue mission from God.” – Reinhard Bonnke (Evangelist).
The difference between a pleasure cruise & a rescue mission.
Church as a pleasure cruise.
A pleasure cruise is about me or us: OUR comfort, OUR fun, OUR provision.
The entire focus of a pleasure cruise is on the passengers comfort & enjoyment. Don’t let anything inconvenient get in the way of our nice, safe, pleasurable experiences on the “cruise” of Christian church life. A little (predictable, controlled) risk in pursuit of our pleasure is OK, so long as we don’t get too bumped around!
Passengers on a pleasure cruise focus almost exclusively on themselves, & the whole “system” (the ship, the crew, the stewards, the captain, the organizational structure) reinforces the view that WE are the pinnacle of the cruise company’s purpose. It is easy to allow ourselves to get into this idea within the Christian church too. But that’s not really the point of the church!
Church as a rescue mission.
A rescue mission is all about OTHER people – the ones who’s lives we are trying to save (really it’s God who is saving them, through our co-operative actions).
It doesn’t really matter how comfortable we are (as crew on the ship), provided that we manage to reach someone “in the water” before they drown & die.
It doesn’t matter what the “rescue boat” looks like (a rusty old tub!) because when you’re a person in danger of drowning at sea, ANY rescue boat will be like a fabulous liner to you! So let’s stop worrying about what our church “looks” like… it IS the rescue boat for those in danger of the ETERNAL fires of hell.
There’s nothing wrong with pleasure – I’m not saying that there is.
The Lord God provides for our every need, ranging from the essentials to the luxurious. Our pleasure is a gift from God & we can give thanks to Him for it…
…BUT, as Reinhard Bonnke’s quote reminds us, the fundamental purpose of Christian’s living on earth is 1) to tell other people about the dangers they face, & 2) to offer their help.
It would be great if a person accepted Jesus as Lord & Saviour (became a Christian) & was then immediately transferred to heaven! They wouldn’t have any of the hassles we face, living on earth! But God doesn’t do that; He leaves us on earth – why? Because one of the most profound, powerful & compelling ways to tell someone who is in danger of “drowning” in life comes from someone who’s been there in the water too.
To mix metaphor’s: who better to tell a starving person where to find food than ANOTHER starving person who has JUST FOUND IT FOR THEMSELVES!
It’s a matter or priorities & purpose.
The problem with the either/or statement – that Christian church is EITHER a pleasure cruise OR a rescue mission is that it a bit artificial, in reality. Sometimes the church is operating as a rescue boat alright, & other times it’s quiet on the waters & no-one appears to be in need. The truth is, we are always surrounded by people who don’t know Jesus & we are in very real danger of “drowning”.
When we get a holiday, or a break, or a bit of “calm sea” amongst the trails of life, that’s great – no problem with enjoying that. I think God provides that respite, & I’m grateful to him for it!
The problem comes when we focus almost exclusively on our selves (within the church) & on keeping ourselves happy, buoyant, trouble-free & risk-free; when we keep our spiritual “eyes” inward-focussed. Then we are in danger of missing our rescue mission altogether. And ESPECIALLY when we know & see people “in the water” downing, as our “Christian ship” goes along, & we don’t offer them assistance (a life belt, a helping hand) then we’ve lost our way & forgotten our earthly purpose – WE’RE ON GOD’S RESCUE MISSION.
We need to keep scanning the “seas” for people. We need to keep watch & keep a lookout for “drowning” people. We need to offer assistance wherever & whenever we can. We need to offer to “pluck them out of the water” if they want to be saved.
The problem with this “drowning” metaphor is that often people in “real” life don’t even know the dangers they are in. They don’t realise that they ARE drowning. And unless a person recognises the dangers they face & react in time (before they die here on earth) then it will be too late for their eternal souls.
A person that doesn’t see the need to be saved isn’t going to allow themselves to be “rescued”, which is WHY we need the power of the Holy Spirit: He provides supernatural power which enables our good (but limited) human efforts to be super-charged, so that the person “sees” their own danger & need of being saved in the first place.
It’s as if a person who is “drowning in the sea” (in reference to our “rescue mission” metaphor) is BLISSFULLY UNAWARE of their condition. The crew on the boat can see their condition: how tired they are getting, the danger of drowning, their drifting towards reefs & other hidden dangers, etc. But the person is unaware of their condition.
I’m sure many of us (in the Christian church) know of people who do not share our faith & who seem totally unaware of the dangers they face.
One of our purposes is to alert people to their danger. (That’s one of the reasons why I’m writing this blog! That’s my way of alerting people to their danger!) In fact, according to Ezekiel, we are responsible to God & held accountable to him, for warning people. *1
Another purpose is to offer assistance to the “drowning” person. The Bible uses a metaphor of “snatching people from the fire” *2
A third is to show “drowning” people a MUCH better way of living life.
Cut loose those sin weights!
In the sea metaphor, our sins (wrong doing) weigh us down & will eventually drown us. Try as we might we are not able to cut loose our sin weights. We need someone else to do that for us: a saviour. And the ONLY person who can do that for us is Jesus *3. Accepting Jesus as our Lord & Saviour causes those sin weights to be cut loose so that we can be pulled onto the “rescue boat” of Christianity *4. When someone becomes a Christian, their sins are “cut loose” & cast (by God) into the sea. They can no longer “sink” or “drown us” anymore. That’s great news!
In the next Blog (part 2) I write about the dangers facing a Christian church with an extreme “inward” or “outward” focus.
NOTES & REFERENCES.
Ezekiel 33:8-10 (AMP)
[The Lord speaking to Ezekiel], “When I [the Lord] say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you [Ezekiel, or us!] do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his perversity and iniquity, but his blood will I require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his evil way and he does not turn from his evil way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”
[This passage seems to state that the Lord will hold us responsible for other people’s death IF we haven’t warned them of the dangers they face. Conversely, if we HAVE warned them, & they CHOOSE to ignore that warning, then the Lord will not hold us responsible for their choice to go to eternal death.]
Jude 1:22-23 (AMP)
And refute [so as to] convict some who dispute with you, and on some have mercy who waver and doubt. [Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality.
John 3:36 (ESV)
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
1 John 1:9 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Micah 7:18-19 (AMP)
Who is a God like You, Who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retains not His anger forever, because He delights in mercy and loving-kindness. He [God] will again have compassion on us; He will subdue and tread underfoot our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
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