I first learned about the United States Life-Saving Service years ago on a family vacation. We got to see a life-saving station that actually has been preserved at a strategic point along the Atlantic coastline. There used to be a lot of them. In some areas, they were like just seven miles apart, you know, along the coast. Each one was staffed by a seven-man crew. I’m going to tell you, these guys were ultimate heroes in every sense of the word! When a ship was in distress near their assigned area, they’d go out into the surf, out into the storm, even a hurricane to try to rescue the people on board. They lived their motto: “You have to go out. You don’t have to come back.” They saved countless lives who otherwise would have been lost.
But it was only recently that I learned how this heroism actually all began. William Newell was a medical doctor, and he was at the New Jersey Shore at a place called Barnegat the day after a ship had gone down during an overnight storm. He was at the beach and the bodies of thirteen crewmen washed ashore. He said, “Here I was, a man who spent his life trying to save lives. And here was a situation where I was absolutely powerless to do anything to help them. Something’s got to be done about this.” Something was. A few years later, Dr. Newell was Congressman Newell; in a position to make a difference. So, he led the effort to birth the United States Life-Saving Service. It started with a few life-saving stations in New Jersey, and then it quickly spread all along the Atlantic Coast because of one man’s heart for those who were being lost.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “A Heart Like His.”
One man looked at lives being lost and he said, “I cannot just let them die.” Jesus is like that. That’s why He went to an awful cross to rescue us from the otherwise inevitable eternal death penalty for our sins. And He’s looking for others who will have a heart like that; a heart that looks at people around you and says, “I can’t just let them die. I’ve got to do something about this.”
One of Jesus’ original rescuers, the Apostle Paul, expressed the heart that Jesus wants to plant in all of us in 2 Corinthians 5, beginning with verse 11. It’s our word for today from the Word of God. He said, “Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.”
Paul never wanted anyone he knew to have to face the awful judgment of God for their sin. He went on to say, “Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all.” If Jesus could die to save them, can’t I at least tell them what He did for them? I can’t just let them die. Where I live, where I work, where I go to school, the groups I’m in-that’s my stretch of beach. I am His life-saving crew for the people there who don’t know Christ.
This isn’t about getting them to change their religion. It’s not about religion at all. It’s about the only One who died for their sins. There are a lot of religions. There’s only one Savior. There’s only one Rescuer. Your mission is to take them by the hand, walk with them up Skull Hill to that cross and say, “This was for you.”
The church you’re in, the ministry you’re in-is it committed as top priority to saving lives on the stretch of beach you’ve been assigned by God, or are you just feeding and comforting the life-saving crew? If your ministry, your church, your Bible study isn’t about rescuing those who will die otherwise, you might need a quick heart exam. Do you have the heart of your Savior? Because He said His reason for coming was to seek and rescue the lost. So you can’t say you’re following Jesus and not be reaching the lost. Because if you follow Him, that’s where He’s going.
An 1883 Life-Saving Service report to Congress displayed a photo of a life-saving crew and it asked this question, “Why would a group of ordinary men risk everything?” The answer explains why you and I must take whatever risks are necessary to help people we know be in heaven with us, “That others might live.”