4 Children Critical After Being Rescued From House Fire in South L.A.
I read that headline last week and it just broke my heart, the story itself, if you read it, (http://ktla.com/2017/01/17/4-children-critical-after-being-rescued-from-house-fire-in-south-l-a/) seems like a case of neglect and abandonment. Extra prayers for those little ones.
I’ve never experienced anything like a fire burning down my home but I have had a handful of parishioners over the years who have and it is devastating. Thinking about their experiences that they described to me, one in particular that was caught in a burning building, they said it was so hard to know which way to go with all of the smoke and fire, it was so confusing.
“Hey, turn around! Come here!” Hearing a voice from behind them and turning they saw a firefighter yelling at them and gesturing for them to follow him. They couldn’t believe it, if the firefighter hadn’t called out they were actually going deeper into the burning building, not out!
You can imagine that when they followed the firefighter it wasn’t like a walk in the park or they took their time to see the sights, no they chased after that firefighter like their lives depended on it, because they did. It wasn’t until they got out and the smoke cleared that they got to actually know the firefighter, see his face, know his name and thank him for rescuing them. In the fire, all they knew was that he was a firefighter and he was getting them out.
When Jesus first began his public ministry of teaching, preaching, healing and exorcising demons that would lead Him to the cross and the empty tomb His first recorded words were:
“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and
“Come and follow me.”
The first one, is like saying hey, look the firefighters are here lights blazing and pouring out of their trucks running to the burning building.
Repent. I don’t know what thought comes to your mind when you hear the word “repent” but I want you to place the image of turning around in there. That’s what it literally means, to turn around. So Jesus is saying, repent for the kingdom of heaven is here, or hey you, the firefighters have arrived and you’re going the wrong way, your going away from the help. Turn around!
Then, the second, come and follow me. Just like the firefighter leading the family out of the burning building, when Jesus says “Come!” it is not a request or when you feel like it but a command, “COME HERE RIGHT NOW!!!” Of course, it should be, you’re in the burning building, you don’t have time to dilly-daddle.
What does this have to do with you and me?
Five things we can learn:
1- We need help
We don’t like to acknowledge this but we live in burning buildings right now and there is nothing ultimately we can do about it. 2 weeks ago I had a severe reaction to a pneumonia vaccine that landed me in the ER and missing Sunday worship with my church family. The doctor was stunned at how bad reaction was. (I won’t get into the gory details but it was ugly.) A small thing like that, that is supposed to be helpful that gets you that badly, but that’s how life goes, especially because our conversation then went to various parts of my health that seem to be quitting all, like the warranty ran out.
Our bodies our burning buildings, sometimes it’s a slow burn, sometimes fast, sometimes an explosion, but they are burning and will burn down often sooner, sometimes later. Even with all of the medicines, oils, supplements, dieting and exercise that we do, it doesn’t stop the burning, but we keep looking all around without any answer any way out.
2- Jesus is our help
When you’re in a burning building and you see a person in a firefighting uniform, you follow them, they’re trying to get you out. Jesus is our firefighter. But the uniform He wears is a little different. His uniform includes the virgin birth, the nail marks on His hands and feet and His resurrected body. Jesus already went through the burning building and came out the other side, conquering death itself and now He runs back into the burning buildings of our own lives to bring us out to safety as well.
That is why when calls out, Repent, come and follow me, it’s not a suggestion, it’s a command from someone who is trying to rescue you. Turn around, you’re going the wrong way, follow me!
3- We’re not in control of this
Funny, how we think sometimes we have all of the answers or we can put our spiritual lives on hold because nothing bad will happen to us or we “have an agreement with God” that is just our way of saying we’re going to do what we want to do. But think of how foolish that is.
Do you (or me) know how to conquer death, or how to preserve our spirits after we die, or how to raise our bodies up in a new creation? Or are we born of the virgin, suffered upon the cross, rose from the dead and lives eternally? If you can say yes, then you’re Jesus. But if you can’t say yes to all of those things (and much more) then you and me, we don’t have a clue how to get out of the burning building of our lives but Jesus does. We’re really not in control but we know someone who is and that is the person we follow, our firefighter, Jesus.
4- We won’t have all of the answers
Just like that family couldn’t know who was under that mask, what his name was or even his favorite tv show, all they knew was follow the firefighter, we’re not going to know everything about the Christian faith or have al of the answers to all of our questions, many of them will have to wait till we get out on the other side to safety with Jesus.
This is what we do know, and what it means to having saving faith. Jesus is your savior, He is your firefighter and in faith you follow Him where He leads out of the burning building. As we follow Him, we learn to trust Jesus more and more and learn what it looks like to follow Him and all of the implications for our daily life that, that entails.
5- Chase Jesus
One of the stories my families shared with me escaping from the fire is what they had to leave behind. Good stuff, important stuff, stuff that couldn’t be replaced. But what each and every one of them told me was what mattered is that their family got out safe, everything else could be replaced, and if not it didn’t really matter compared to the lives of their family.
We are sorely tempted to meander towards Jesus, if we have time follow Jesus, when we’re not busy doing good stuff maybe think about Jesus; but while all of those things may be good and even important, if they become more important than following Jesus they are turning you the wrong way, deeper into the burning building, not out.
Chase Jesus, like your life depends on it, because it does. Everything else will follow and if it doesn’t, that’s okay. Chase Jesus.