Summary: Do I love the church more than I love Jesus and lost people?
Dangerous. That word describes a certain strip of seacoast. Shipwrecks were numerous there. Some folks that lived in that area were greatly concerned about the loss of human life so they built a crude little lifesaving station. The building wasn’t much. It was really just a shack. They only had one boat but the few who saw the need were devoted to the cause. They kept a constant watch over the sea. Without thought for themselves, they went out day or night searching for those who had been lost in the sea.
Even though they were small and didn’t have the best equipment, they saved a lot of lives and because of that, they gained some notoriety. Some of those who were saved along with various other people in the area wanted to become affiliated with this life-saving station. They gave their time, effort, and money to support its work. The little lifesaving station grew.
Some of the new members grew discontent with the building. They felt it was crude and poorly equipped. They felt that there ought to be a larger and more comfortable building for such an important venture.
They built a bigger building and replaced the emergency cots with beds. They put nicer furniture in the public areas. This lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members so they redecorated it beautifully and furnished it as sort of a club.
Less of the members were now interested in going out on the sea on lifesaving missions. They hired life boat crews to do this work. The original mission of lifesaving was given lip-service but most of the members were too busy or lacked the commitment to personally take part in the lifesaving activities.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were water-logged, dirty and sick. Some of them had skin of a different color, some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new clubhouse was looking grungy. The property committee had a meeting and built a shower house outside of the clubhouse where the victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next full meeting of its members, there was a great uproar. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's lifesaving activities because they were unpleasant and were becoming a hindrance to the normal pattern of the club.
But some members insisted that lifesaving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. Those who liked their clubhouse just the way it was outvoted those who supported the original mission. The lifesaving advocates were told that if they wanted to save the lives of all various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. So they did.
As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another lifesaving station was founded. If you visit that seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but now most of the people drown.
Sad story. Disheartening. I never want that to happen here at Central Park. I want us to be strong in our mission – reaching out to save those who are shipwrecked by the storms of this world.
Because of that mission, I want to ask you a very important question this morning. But before I do that, I need to share with you the reason this particular question is very important. It’s because drug addiction is on the rise here in Vermilion County and across our nation. It’s because our societal systems are devaluing the role of the church and the authority of the Bible. It’s because children are being abused. It’s because people are looking for anything to fill the void within themselves. It’s because people need what Christ has to offer. It’s because lost people need to be lead to safety. It’s because people are lost and dying and going to hell.
So here is the question. Each one of us need to answer it willingly and truthfully. Do I love the church more than I love Jesus and lost people?
Don’t misunderstand what I’m asking. We should love the church. We are the church. The church is the Bride of Christ. Jesus loves his bride. He gave his life for it and is returning at some point to take his bride home to the Father. So I’m not saying, “Don’t love the church.”
Here’s the extent of the question: Do I love THIS church, do I love THIS fellowship, do I love the programs and the processes of Central Park more than I love Jesus and lost people? Is it more important to maintain things as they are or is it more important to fulfill our mission?