The LifeSaving Station

December 21, 2011

This parable has been instrumental in helping me keep my priorities straight concerning the local church for many years.  I read it often and pray not to every become like what is described, from a leader’s point of view.  The parable is derived from a story by William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army.  I even have the piece of art below, by Mauricio Palacio,  framed depicting the story.  I hope the story means as much to you as it has to me:

On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area wanted to become associated with the station and gave of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully because they used it as a sort of club.

Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.

The life-saving motif still prevailed in the club’s decorations, and there was a liturgical life-boat in the room where the club’s initiations were held. About this time a large ship wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house build outside the club where victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split among the club membership.

Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club.

Some members insisted upon life-saving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station. So they did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

——–

I pray that MJLifeChurch never looses sight of our vision.  I pray that we never loose compassion, love, and concern for those that are far from God.

What’s one thing that bothers you about churches, hypocrites, and “Christians” that forget their mission?

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3 Responses to “The LifeSaving Station”

  1. Troy Lockamy said

    Myself and a couple of other guys were just discussing this subject over breakfast this morning. I agree that we look at church more as a social club that meets once a week versus its original purpose of spreading the gospel and making disciples. We have the selfish attitude of what am I getting out of this instead of what can I give to others. In other words we have trouble coming off the mountain when instead we should be down in the valley doing the work. Everyone loves a good harvest but few of us want to plow the fields.

    • eddiepoole said

      That’s dead on, Troy. If we could just remember that we were drowning ourselves before someone cared enough to show Christ to us, that might go a long way. Also, if we could really get a small idea of how much Jesus gave up when He humbled Himself to death, even death on a cross. It seems like alot of times it is those who have known Christ the longest that seem to forget and loose compassion for those far from God.

  2. Troy Lockamy said

    Yes indeed. As we’re plowing the field our eyes need to be fixed on the goal and what’s ahead, not on the past. As Jesus said, we’re worthless to Him when we do that.

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