As the chain of rescuers reached the car, the trapped woman refused to get out and come to safety. From her perspective, it was safer in a car that was being destroyed by the flood than trusting her rescuers to get her safely to the shore. The rescuers didn’t give up. Risking their own safety, they shouted and pleaded for her to get out of the car. Thankfully, she finally yielded, climbed out the window of the car, and was pulled to safety.
You can watch the video of the rescue below (Caution: There is some cursing involved. Real life gets hairy!).
Rescues are stunning things. If you’re a Christian, you know the power of being rescued. You were lost, far from God, the big-picture of life just didn’t quite make sense. When Jesus rescued you and brought you close to Him, your world changed. Don’t be fooled, all the parts of human life still existed – joy and sorrow, abundance and need, and the like. But now it’s not hopeless. It’s not empty. You can’t keep that kind of power to yourself!
That’s why, as Christians, we’re all on rescue missions. How could we not be? Whether at work, in your neighborhood, or through your social circles – each relationship offers a chance to love another human and point them to the rescue that Jesus offers. You see, rescued people rescue people.
In Colossians 1:28-29, Paul says, “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”
Paul was willing to work hard to rescue people. He met them where they were. Consider Acts 17, when Paul went to Athens. He studied their culture and religious practices. He worked to understand the context of their lives, then, he brought the good news of Jesus to them.
That type of rescue effort takes patience, listening, and hard work. The world has enough smug, self-centered perspectives in it; we don’t need to add a Christian version to the mix. To rescue someone else, you can’t be cavalier or superior. That attitude doesn’t build relational credit. Yes, you have the joy of all joys to offer them – the good news of Jesus. But you can’t be heard unless people know and feel that you want good things for them. That you’re on their side. That you understand where they are coming from and have heard them. To truly hear your message of rescue, people need to know that you are for them, not against them.
Jesus certainly was for people. I think of the woman at the well (John 4), the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume by using her hair and tears (Luke 7), or when Jesus ate dinner with “sinners” and tax collectors (Mark 2). Jesus didn’t mirror the world’s criticism of these people back towards them. Instead, he brought them love and forgiveness.
That’s how I want to be. I want the people in my life to know that I love them. They aren’t just my pet project to convert to Christianity. I want them to know I’ll have their back when life gets hard. That I’ll stand up for them. That I’ll be there for them when they get in trouble. That I am for them. That’s how Jesus loves me and that’s how Jesus wants me to love them.
It’s scary to make life changes. It sure is for me. And choosing to follow Jesus is a huge life change. You need loving people who are for you to help you make that leap. The lady trapped in her car in the Ellicott City flood didn’t want to get out. She was literally being washed away in a flood with rescuers reaching for her, yet she was terrified to leave her perceived safety. How much harder is it to leap to the safety of Jesus when you don’t see Him, but only his love being offered through others?
So let’s be that love. Let’s be for our communities. I want to be for Northern Virginia, because I know God is.
Katharine is a member of Skyline Vineyard Church. When not wrangling kids or geeking out on math, she might be found spinning some discs (Ultimate Frisbee style), playing in the dirt (gardening??) or hiding from the kids by secretly reading in the laundry room.
If you missed out on this week's sermon, check it out here.