"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fishers of Men

Being the program director at New Life bible camp forces me to ask myself what the purpose of our camp is.  Two weekends ago was Men and Boys retreat.  Old gray headed men and dirty faced little boys both enjoyed spending time with friends, playing games, worshiping, and learning new things together.  There was plenty of great food, a few games of horse shoes, golf, baseball, archery, laughter, and campfire stories—all in all, it was a great weekend

Camp is a fun place for me, filled with a lot of fond memories, but if that is all that it is, I’ll miss out on an eternally significant purpose.  As I think about the purpose of camp, I think back to the illustration Pastor Skip has used of two different types of ships—the cruise liner and the battle ship.  We can look at camp as a cruise liner—a fun and relaxing place to visit for a while, or we can look at it as a battle ship—a ministry with an intense and urgent mission, a tool fighting for the souls of men.

I have an opportunity to invite men, women and children to camp this summer; a place where they might for the first time hear the message of a God who loved them so much, he came down to earth to die on their behalf, inviting them into eternal life with Him.  We then have the opportunity to continue building relationships with these people, inviting them into our church family.  In doing this, camp becomes more than another summer vacation opportunity; it becomes a chance for us to invite people into an eternal saving relationship with their creator, and into continual fellowship with a body of believers.  That’s a perspective with purpose.

The speaker at Men and Boy's retreat shared with us an illustration about the Titanic that he took from a book by Ron Hutchcraft.  The “unsinkable” ship brought death to 1500 people that fateful evening April 15, 1912.  Though there simply weren’t enough life boats for the amount of passengers on the Titanic, the sad truth is that even still, most of the boats rowed away from the sinking ship less than half full.   Many people desperately cried out “Help me!” as they splashed frantically in the frigid water begging to be saved, but shockingly, those in the life boats paddled past the desperate cries.

3 days later when funeral ships returned to the scene of the horrific event, 328 frozen bodies were found floating in life jackets.  These people did not die because a ship sank.  They died because those who could have saved them refused to help. 

There is a healthy dose of perspective in this illustration.  As Christians, do we recognize we sit in a life boat amidst thousands of drowning souls?  Countless people all around us are perishing without the hope of Jesus Christ, yet most Christians paddle by, concerned to take the risk of reaching out with truth.  Will you? 

We are not on a comfortable cruise, we are on a rescue mission!  I pray we remember our purpose and that we live it out.   Are we extending our hands to those drowning in the water, or are we paddling away from there cries for help?  Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of men.  Let’s pull drowning souls into the hope that we have.