I have joined with millions of Americans and literally millions more people across the world who have watched, prayed and rejoiced with the 12 soccer players and one coach freed from the cave in Thailand. It has been remarkable to watch the footage and see the heroic rescue taking place. On June 23 the soccer team was exploring a cave with their soccer coach when a flash flood occurred trapping the team over 2 miles away from rescue. For the past few days I’ve watch and prayed for the young boys, the coach, and the rescue team. On Monday morning, I woke to the incredible news that all 12 boys and coach were saved. I praised God from whom all blessings flow. As I’ve considered this amazing story, I was reminded of a couple of lessons for the church.
- Life Matters
I don’t know these boys. I have absolutely no connection to them except they have been created by the same creator who created me. Therefore, their lives have intrinsic and immense value. They have been created in the image of God, just like me. Their lives matter; their lives matter a lot. As a Christian, I am reminded over and over life matters. That is why we are here. From the womb to the tomb life matters and all life matters. Whether they are a fetus in a mother’s womb, an illegal at the border, a prisoner on death row, the president of your neighborhood bank or 12 young boys and a coach from Thailand. Life matters. Can I ask you a simple question? When was the last time you prayed for your neighbor the way you prayed for these 13 lives? When was the last time God broke your heart over a lost friend in dire need of rescue the way God broke your heart for these 13? When was the last time your rejoiced with the news that a person you just met came to know Christ and was rescued from death into life? We prayed, worried, and rejoiced with 13 lives we didn’t know, as well we should have. But should we pray, worry and rejoice with our neighbor, with our family, friends, and coworkers? Since life matters, we must allow compassion and grace to fill our hearts and impact our treatment of others. Romans 2:4 reminds us “that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” How would the church grow if our first reaction is always kindness, grace, and compassion? I think I would love to pastor a church like that.
- Every Great Rescue Needs an Even Better Plan!
The 13 were alone. Scared. They were facing certain death. Unbeknownst to them, there was a plan in the works to bring rescue to them. The need was great, but the plan was even greater. Our need is great, but God’s plan of rescue is even greater. The Bible says we too need rescued. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23). The entirety of scripture is a story of rescue and redemption. It begins in the Garden. In Genesis 3:15, God , gives His declaration of war against Satan. Satan may have turned one man who created a sinful spiral of death and destruction, but God would send one who would create an abundant life of hope and joy. The Old Testament is the story of God preparing His people for the Messiah and Satan doing everything he can to extinguish the possibility of the Messiah. Satan almost succeeded. For instance, in the story of Noah, God’s people numbered one. Noah was the only righteous man left but the righteousness of this one man saved himself, his family, and the world. Noah is a type of Christ. Likewise, in Jesus, the righteousness of one man saved the world. Throughout the Old Testament, God continues to have a faithful remnant who remain true to His name and who long for the coming of the Messiah. Rescue came many years after the Garden in the form of God, Himself. God put skin on and rescued you and me through His death. The wages of sin is death but instead of you dying, Jesus, the Messiah, died in our place. In a nutshell, that is the Gospel. That is God’s wonderful plan of rescue.
- We love a good rescue story
From Thor to Iron Man and Batman to Wonder Woman, we all love a good super hero and we are absolutely obsessed with a daring story of rescue. We love to root for the underdog and we thrive on the excitement of an underdog in the grips of certain death waiting on their rescuer. At the perfect time, the Avengers crack upon the scene and rescue the underdog and all is set right with the world again. We are fanatical with stories of rescue, just check the box office for proof.
Remember our story, we need rescue. At the perfect time, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, on a mission of rescue (Galatians 4:4; John 3:16) and through Jesus, we who were objects of God’s wrath were reconciled to God and became children of God (Ephesians 2:1-9; 1 John 3:1). Make no mistake, we were rescued out of God’s rich mercy and His great love so we can become rescuers. And now we have the mission and ministry of reconciliation. When you talk to a person about Jesus, let them know He is the Superhero. People love a story of rescue – Give them the greatest rescue story of all. Use yourself as a main character and tell them how Jesus rescued you and He can rescue them too. It’s all by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Not sure where to start? Why not start but developing your story? Know who you are and what God has done for you through Jesus Christ. Get excited about your rescue story and share it with others in the form of an exciting adventure of rescue. Who in your circle of influence is in need of rescue? Who do you know is far from God? Begin there. Find time to tell them how God rescued you through Jesus Christ. Let them see your excitement. Ask them if they’ve ever seen an Avenger movie and tell them your God is an amazing superhero. Begin to pray for them by name, invite them to church, and tell them your story.