Matthew 9:37-38 – “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Romans 10:13-14 – “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
At our district conference in St. Croix Falls, our district superintendent, Jeff Brown urged us as pastors to be “life raft number 14” pastors who lead “life raft number 14” churches. He told us a story from the sinking of the Titanic about one of the life rafts carrying survivors. Most of the life rafts distanced themselves from the ship as it plunged into the sea so as not to be pulled under by the drowning people. Life raft number 14 made the decision to instead go to try to save as many of the drowning as possible. The illustration is powerful, graphic, and very real. Every day, there are people dying around us who do not know Jesus. The Bible is clear: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Apart from Jesus Christ, death leads to eternal separation from God.
Are we a “life raft number 14” church? Are we a church who not only understands the truth of Matthew 9:37-38 with our heads, but also with our hearts? Are we people who take Paul’s words in Romans 10:13-14 seriously? If we really believe all these things, yet fail to share the gospel with those who are lost and floundering apart from Christ, we are simply like all the other life boats who distanced themselves from the drowning people.
Can you imagine the trauma you would experience as a survivor of the Titanic on one of those other lifeboats? As you rowed away from the drowning, you could hear their screaming and flailing and crying. You could hear the gurgling of some as they breathed in water that ultimately led to their demise. Could you imagine the guilt you would feel as you willingly chose to save yourselves but not anyone else?
Follower of Christ: hear the screams. Hear the cries of your neighbors. Hear the desperation and depression of ignorance and hardness. Understand the gravity of the world’s rebellion against the holy, sovereign, King of the universe! And as you understand this rebellion, may our hearts be broken. May our lives be dramatically changed as we turn back toward the Titanic as life raft 14 did that night. May we be a “life raft number 14” church.
In contrast to the life rafts rowing away from the drowning, listen to Charles Spurgeon’s plea to the church: “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”