By David B. Smith
You’ve heard the old love-gram where a smitten kid e-mails to his girlfriend and gushes: “Baby, you’re everything in the world to me. I can’t bear to be without you. I would swim the deepest ocean; I’d trek across the hot Gobi Desert in my bare feet; I’d hire a Sherpa and climb to the top of Mt. Everest in order to see you.” Then he adds: “P.S. I might come over Thursday if it isn’t raining.”
There’s a colorful story in Mark 2 where a sick man has four generous friends who take him to see Jesus the great healer. These husky companions came to the front door of Peter’s house and they couldn’t get in. The doorway was packed; the house was filled to overflowing with humanity. But they didn’t let anything stop them. Verse 4: Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the man was lying on. They dropped their friend down at the feet of Jesus and said: “Here! We’re not going away until You give us some help.” It was an urgent moment and these men were not going to be denied. They knew that it was life and death. This was the moment.
I admit that pastors tend to think of freeway sig alerts (these are traffic jams in Los Angeles) and rainy weekend mornings and the myriad of excuses people make about not driving over to church to worship together. But please think of the moments all week long when you could nudge someone toward the Cross, and there’s a thing in the way. A scheduling thing. An embarrassment thing. An inconvenience thing. A money thing. A prestige thing. I have them too. I’m sometimes visiting members and church friends on a Tuesday night with my Thomas Brothers Guide, circling around aimlessly, trying to find that elusive address. Burning up gas at $3.40 a gallon. And I can either cruise around a bit more and maybe, perhaps, find a person at home for one more brief visit . . . or I can crank up the car stereo, get on the I-210 freeway and head for the comfort of home. So for me it’s an American Idol thing. And it’s all right to go home and watch TV, but these four men did not go home; they climbed up on the roof.
I heard a sermon once where the pastor talked about the lifeboats that rowed away from the sinking Titanic. A boat built for 65 had twelve people in it. Half-empty boats, and they paddled to safety, away from the deadly suction of the great vessel going down. Then the frozen cries of the drowning filled the midnight air. And the people in these boats sat there, frozen by a desire to preserve their own interests. You remember the line from James Cameron’s film: “Waiting for an absolution that would never come.”
And this preacher said with tears in his eyes, “Never again. Man, never again. If I have a chance to introduce somebody to Jesus, I’m not going to back off and just sit in the lifeboat. The LIFEboat. Never again. If I have to knock a hole in the roof, I am taking that person to Jesus.”
David B. Smith pastors the Upper Rom Fellowship in Temple City, CA. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.