Monday, 6 June 2011

The lifeline

I want you to imagine you're on a cruise.  All is smooth sailing and you're having the time of your life until the captain of the ship comes along with a lifebelt in his hands. 

The captain tells you to put the lifebelt on, so you ask him what's wrong, is the ship in danger?  He tells you the ship isn't in danger, but if you don't put the lifebelt on you'll be in danger.  You're baffled by his answer so you ask him what he's on about, and he tells you that unless you put the lifebelt on he will throw you overboard!

Obviously you think this is bizarre, but he goes on to explain how long he's had the lifebelt and how much he really loves it, and he wants you to appreciate and love it too, and if you don't then you're getting chucked into the sea.

How would you react?  You'd probably react the same way many people react to the message of the Gospel, with indignant rage!  The whole thing seems so petty and unfair, getting thrown overboard just because you didn't take a lifebelt that you had no need of.  Many people feel that the story is an accurate allegory of the Gospel - God is offering His Son to you, and unless you receive Him He'll throw you into hell.  It seems outrageous, but of course it does - it is!  But it's not what the Bible teaches.

Imagine you're still on this cruise, and through your own stupidity and disobedience you have fallen into the sea.  The alarm is sounded and someone throws out the lifebelt and it lands right beside you.  Refusing to take that lifebelt doesn't put you in danger, it keeps you in danger - you were in danger before ever the lifebelt was offered to you.  The lifebelt is the answer to your danger, not the cause of it.

This is an accurate parable of what the Gospel is all about.  We are perishing because of our sins, the Lord Jesus came to earth and went to the cross to provide salvation for us.  The Gospel throws out the lifebelt and tells us that Christ is able to save us from the danger that we are in.  Refusing Christ doesn't put you on the road to hell, it keeps you there - that's where we are because of our sin.  Christ didn't come to condemn us, but He came that we might be saved (John 3 v 17-18).  He is within your reach today - you could receive Him as your Saviour and be delivered from the danger you are in.  I hope you'll do that.