Summary: A look at Luke 15 showin the objective of he church and the reason we don’t achieve it.
WHEN WE MOVE OUT GOD CAN MOVE IN Part 2
(Moving Out of Our Comfort Zone)
(All my sermons use illustrations from www.sermoncentral.com and scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted)
Last week we started a five part series entitled “When We Move Out, God Moves In” Last week we learned how important it is that we move out in humility, staying humble in all we do and say. This week I want to start out with a story from a collection of illustrations by Chuck Swindoll, about a life saving station. (The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart; Chuck Swindoll pgs. 89-91)
On a dangerous seacoast notorious for shipwrecks, there was a crude little lifesaving station. Actually, the station was merely a hut with only one boat. But the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the turbulent sea. With little thought for themselves, they would go out day and night tirelessly searching for those in danger, as well as the lost. Many, many lives were saved by this brave band of men and women who faithfully worked as a team, in and out of the lifesaving station. By and by it became a famous place.
Some of those who had been saved, as well as others along the seacoast, wanted to become associated with this little station. They were willing to give their time and energy and money in support of its’ objectives. New boats were purchased. New crews were trained. The station that was once obscure and crude and virtually insignificant, began to grow.
Some of its members were unhappy that the hut was so unattractive and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided. Therefore emergency cots were replaced with lovely furniture. Rough, handmade equipment was discarded, and sophisticated, classy systems were installed. The hut, of course had to be torn down to make room for all the additional equipment, furniture, systems and appointments.
By its completion, the lifesaving station had become a popular gathering place, and its objectives began to shift. It was now used as a sort of clubhouse, an attractive building for public gatherings. Saving lives, feeding the hungry, strengthening the fearful, and calming the disturbed, rarely occurred anymore.
Fewer members were now interested in braving the sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired a professional lifeboat crew to do the work. The original goal of the station wasn’t altogether forgotten, however. The lifesaving motifs still prevailed in the club’s decorations. In fact, there was a liturgical lifeboat preserved in the “Room of Sweet Memories” with soft, indirect lighting, which helped hide the layer of dust upon the once-used vessel.
About this time a very large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the professional boat crews brought in loads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people. They were dirty. Some were terribly sick and lonely. Others were black and this made them “different” from the majority of the club members. The beautiful new club suddenly became messy and cluttered. A special committee was formed to see that a shower house was immediately built “outside” and “away from” the clubhouse so the victims of ship wreck could be cleaned up “before” coming inside the club.
At the next meeting there were strong words and angry feelings, which resulted in a division among the members. Most of the people wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities altogether and place all involvements with shipwreck victims somewhere else. “It’s too unpleasant,” they said. It’s a hindrance to our social life. And it is opening the doors to folks who are not ‘our kind’.”
Well, as you would expect, some still insisted on saving lives, that this was their primary objective. Their only reason for existence was ministering to “ANYONE” needing help, regardless of their club’s beauty or size or decorations. BUT, they were voted down and they were told if they still wanted to be involved in saving lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast ! AND, so they did.
As years passed, the new station experienced the same old changes. It evolved into just another club. And yet, another lifesaving station was begun. History continued to repeat itself. And if you visit that coast today, you’ll find a large number of exclusive, impressive clubs along the shoreline owned and operated by slick professionals who have lost all involvement with the saving of lives.
Ship wrecks still occur in those waters, you understand, but now most of the victims are not saved. Every day they perish at sea, and so few seem to care . . . so very few.
Now, work with me here, this could describe any church in the world today. Many start out with little concerns for their own comfort, they will faithfully work, BOTH in and out of the church. This is what encourages others to join and be willing to give their time, energy and money to support the objective. THEN, they begin to complain, WHY? Because they are no longer comfortable, and thus the objective begins to shift. They place the original objective somewhere they can speak of it and still remain comfortable.