If you’re a mayor, you’re used to taking the heat, of course, but not the flames. Several years ago there was a story that was pretty amazing. It came from Newark, N. J. where Cory Booker was Mayor, and what he did to save his next door neighbor.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Mayor in the Flames.”
Mayor Booker arrived home at his apartment to find one of his security detail knocking on the door of the building next door to warn them the second floor was on fire. The officer managed to get two women and a man out of the building. But one of the women told the mayor and his security men that her daughter, Zina, was still upstairs.
With his officers literally holding his belt and trying to physically restrain him, the mayor got loose and he ran into that burning building. Upstairs, Booker encountered a kitchen engulfed in flames. He said later, “Just as I was looking down, finding somewhere to breathe, I heard her.”
He followed her voice as he heard explosions and he saw “sparks flying everywhere.” When he reached the room where she was, it was totally in flames. Well, he picked her up over his shoulder, carried her as these burning embers were falling down from the ceiling, burning her back and burning his hand.
Meanwhile, the security officers were pretty sure their mayor wasn’t coming out alive, and Booker was thinking the same thing actually. He said, “Every time I breathed in, I felt a blackness. We were fighting for our lives.” The mayor told reporters, “I had a conversation with God I never had before.” Amazingly, Booker made it out with the woman he’d rescued, collapsed on the ground, just coughing violently.
Needless to say, the news accounts hailed the mayor’s incredible bravery. But his take was a little different. He said, “I didn’t feel bravery. I felt terror.” Which raises the question, “Why did he run right into those flames?” Well, his answer was right to the point. He said, “If I didn’t go in, this lady’s going to die.” Afraid of what might happen to him if he went in for the rescue, but more afraid of what might happen to her if he didn’t.
And then there’s me, ordered by the Lord, along with all of His children, in our word for today from the Word of God, to “snatch others from the fire and save them” and to “rescue those being led away to death.” That’s Jude 23 and Proverbs 24:11. But too often, afraid of what might happen to me if I try to tell them about Jesus, and letting that decide what I do: Staying silent, holding back, leaving them in their deadly situation.
When I’ve asked groups of believers what keeps them from talking to folks about our Jesus, I get the same answer almost in unison. “Fear.” “Fear of what?” Well, the answers are pretty predictable. “They might reject me,” “They might not like me,” “I might mess it up.” The fears that silence us have one thing in common. They’re all about me; what might happen to me.
But rescue is all about them. “If I don’t go in, they’re going to die.” Unfortunately, we can’t actually see the horrific spiritual danger our friends and neighbors and coworkers are in, unless we ask Jesus to help us see what He sees. Those people you see day after day are, in the Bible’s words, “lost” (Luke 19:10), “perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15), “without hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12). And ultimately, it says in 2 Thessalonians, they will be “shut out from the presence of the Lord” unless someone goes in for the rescue and tells them that Jesus loves them so much He took all of that hell so they would never have to.
If the mayor had waited for the rescue professionals to do it, that woman would have died. Had he let his fears decide, had he waited for someone who could do it better, if he’d said, “It’s not up to me,” a life would have been lost. He knew what I can’t afford to forget – the life in danger is in the hands of the person who’s where they are. That means there’s a list of people in my world for whom I’m their best hope of rescue, because the Good News of Jesus isn’t just beliefs to share. It’s life-or-death information.
I don’t think I’m ever going to lose the fear. But courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the disregard of it because a life is at stake. Spiritual rescue is possible because of the love of one Man – Jesus. Who didn’t just risk His life for you and me; He gave His life. And He stands ready to rescue you from a spiritual death penalty you can’t escape any other way.
You can find out more about that at our website, ANewStory.com. And you know what could happen? You could change your eternal destination this very day.