It was a 911 call that alerted the first responders. A man was slowly wading out into San Francisco Bay, inching his way to ending his life there. Pretty soon a group of firefighters, and a crowd of about 75 people, were watching as this desperate man went a little deeper and a little deeper, and sadly occasionally glancing back at the shore. They stood there watching for an hour…and they watched him die, without anyone making a move to help him.
I can only imagine this man looking back at those spectators, wondering, “Does anyone care if I live or die?” And I wonder how life-changing it might have been if someone had been willing to try to save him. It’s just kind of sickening isn’t it?
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Watching Him Drown.”
You know, understandably, everyone was pretty quick to jump on those firefighters and onlookers who did nothing while a man died in front of them. And you know they all had their reasons; some maybe more valid than others. But I’m seeing something else in this horribly sad incident, because I see something of myself and so many of my fellow Jesus-followers in that scene by the bay. Because all too often, we stand idly by as people around us go steadily to their death. Oh, this is an eternal death, forever away from God, because that’s the penalty for hijacking the running of our life from Him, and every single human has done that.
God tells us that He has “given us eternal life and this life is in His Son” because His Son did the dying for all our sinning. Now our word for today from the Word of God is in 1 John 5:11-12. Here’s what they say: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” In other words, there is no way the people we care about will get into heaven without Jesus. And He has left us with that life-or-death information that their eternity depends on.
So, our orders from God in Proverbs 24:11 are to “rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” See, to remain silent about my Jesus to someone without Him is the equivalent to watching them slowly die in front of me when I have, hidden in my heart, what could save them.
I’m sure those people on the shore each had their reasons, or excuses, for doing nothing. But is there an excuse for standing by when it is within your power to save someone who’s dying – certainly spiritually? We all know the reasons or the excuses we offer for our silence about the Rescuer who came from heaven.
The fear of offending, the fear of damaging a relationship, the fear of not being liked, the fear of messing it up. By the way, did you notice all those fears have one thing in common? They’re all about me. Isn’t it time I had a greater fear than what might happen to me if I go in for the rescue? That would be the fear of what will happen to them if I don’t. Because life now without Jesus is hard, and life forever without Him is horrible, unthinkable.
I know this: I know that Jesus jumped in to rescue me at the cost of His life. How can I, then, stay on the shore any longer and watch people I know slip away without Him; without a chance to live forever. And I am their chance.