“Rescue the Perishing”
“Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back” (Proverbs 21:11).
Titanic was a blockbuster movie about a tragic night in history- the “unsinkable ship” sank. In the early twentieth century, the Titanic was the crowning achievement of human technology. And on its maiden voyage, there may never have been one vessel that carried more of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful at one time. Yet the wealth and power were rendered powerless when an iceberg in the At¬lantic Ocean created six small gashes in Titanic’s massive hull and sent her to the bottom in two hours. For the seven hundred survivors—more than 1,500 passengers and crew died—the images of that horrific April night in the North At¬lantic are unforgettable. The brightly lit ocean liner sinking lower and lower, sliding beneath the water, and then being erased from the ocean’s icy surface.
Yet of all the images of that night, none are more unsettling than what happened after the Titanic had sunk below the surface. The survivor accounts of that night tell us that there were only twenty lifeboats aboard—about half of what was required to fully evacuate the ship. Most of them were only partially full. As the Titanic was sink¬ing, many passengers were able to put on a lifejacket, but they could not find an available lifeboat. They jumped or fell into the ocean, left floating in the frigid waters, crying into the night for help. There was room in the lifeboats for hundreds of them! That is why their fate is shocking. Though those in the wa¬ter continued to cry out for someone to rescue them, the people in the lifeboats just kept rowing away. They thought rescue was too risky. So out of those twenty lifeboats, only one finally turned back, in time to save only six passengers.
Three days later when the funeral ships arrived from Nova Scotia, they were greeted by a ghostly sight: 328 life jacketed men, women, and children, floating in the water, frozen to death. And why did they die? Not because the Titanic sank, but because the people who were already saved would not go back for them.
The Titanic story can paint a spiritual picture. Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected so that He could rescue men and women from spiritual death! By God’s grace we are in Je¬sus’ lifeboat, saved and headed for heaven. And He has put us in life boats to rescue others for Him. But all around us—where we work, where we live, where we shop or go to school there are people who will die spiritually unless someone rescues them. Some of them are people you know, people you love, people within your reach. In a sense, God has placed us close to these spiritually lost and dying people so we might man the lifeboats that give them hope of being rescued.
Tragically, to many Christians are content to just enjoy their own safe place in Jesus’ lifeboat. We fellowship with our lifeboat comrades, sing our lifeboat songs, and even work on ways to make our lifeboats bigger and more comfortable. Meanwhile, people we see day after day are drowning spiritually, with no understanding that God’s one and only Son died so they don’t have to. And they remain unrescued, because those of us who are already rescued keep rowing away from them. Will we turn our lifeboats around? Will we take the risks to give them a chance to live?
An old Fanny Crosby hymn is “Rescue the Perishing.” The first two stanzas are as follows: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save. Tho they are slighting Him, still He is waiting, waiting the penitent child to receive; Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently, He will forgive if they only believe.” I hope and pray that we will be serious about telling others about Jesus Christ-about rescuing those who are spiritually perishing.
-Pastor Mike Kotrla