The year was 1940. The French army had just collapsed under the siege of Hitler's onslaught. The Dutch had folded, overwhelmed by the Nazi regime. The Belgians had surrendered. And the British army was trapped on the coast of France in the channel port of Dunkirk.
Two-hundred and twenty thousand of Britain's finest young men seemed doomed to die, turning the English Channel red with their blood. The Fuhrer's troops, only miles away in the hills of France, didn't realize how close to victory they actually were.
Any rescue seemed feeble and futile in the time remaining. A thin British navy—"the professionals"—told King George VI that at best they could save 17,000 troops. The House of Commons was warned to prepare for "hard and heavy tidings."
Politicians were paralyzed. The King was powerless. And the allies could only watch, as spectators from a distance. Then, as the doom of the British army seemed imminent, a strange fleet appeared on the horizon of the English Channel: the wildest assortment of boats perhaps ever assembled in history. Trawlers, tugs, scows, fishing sloops, lifeboats, pleasure craft, smacks and coasters, sailboats, an island ferry by the name of Gracie Fields, even Endeavor came—the America's cup challenger, and the London fire brigade fire flotilla. Each ship was manned by civilian volunteers—English fathers sailing to rescue Britain's exhausted bleeding sons.
Manchester writes in his epic novel The Last Lion that even today what happened in 1940 in less than 24 hours seems like a miracle—not only were all of the British soldiers rescued but numerous allied troops as well. Over 338,000 troops were redeemed that day.
A lesson for believers
The parallel today is striking. For too long the paid professionals (ministers, missionaries, and full-time Christian workers) have unknowingly robbed laymen of the great privilege of leading others to Christ. But today, like the leaders of Britain, pastors and Christian leaders need civilian volunteers to sign up for a rescue effort of even greater magnitude.
For too long Christian families have compromised their message. When an opportunity arises for confronting a spiritual subject we squirm uncomfortably and mumble something about church (not Christ). We often go to great lengths to avoid asking another person about his eternal destiny and his relationship with Jesus Christ.
I'm amazed by how concerned I am with what a friend, neighbor, or associate may think of me. Why are we so preoccupied with another's possible rejection of us when his soul may be, humanly speaking, hanging in the balance? Perhaps our focus is on the wrong thing.
Talking to others about Christ
On a recent flight to the West Coast I talked to a "yuppie of yuppies." He had life wired in 220 volts! He was all together, and he looked the part! Though I was tempted to say nothing "spiritual" after spending an hour of getting to know the young man, I finally asked him about his religious beliefs. The fact that he sinned didn't bother him. The fact God would hold him accountable didn't bother him. And the fact that hell exists didn't bother him either. But it certainly bothered me. Before we landed I had the opportunity to sensitively and clearly present the person of Jesus Christ and His plan for salvation to him.
He said he wasn't interested. But I had been faithful—my mission in that man's life for that particular day was accomplished. As Bill Bright, Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, once said, "Successful witnessing is simply sharing Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God." Yes, I struggle with opening up a conversation about spiritual things. However, I've found a few factors compel me to ask others about their spiritual condition.
First, I am compelled by the realization that without Christ all men are lost and without hope. Man continues to fail in his relationships with his spouse, his kids, his neighbor, or with another country. Sure humans do good things, but that doesn't change the fact that we all sin naturally. I never taught a single one of our six children how to steal a cookie, yet they all did it—it comes from their nature.
Second, I'm compelled to share Christ with others by the reminder of the reality of hell. Hell is not in vogue today. You'll never see an academy award winning movie on hell, nor hear a popular song describing what is reserved for those who are outside a personal faith in Jesus Christ. And it isn't spoken of much from our pulpits, either. But the place of eternal judgment and torment is more real than the room you are in right now. People who do not know Christ will spend their eternity there. I may not like the fact that it exists and even try to ignore it, but that doesn't change the truth that hell does exist and people who die without Christ will go there.
Third, I want to share the Good News because it is the very reason for which Christ came to the planet earth. Christ came "to seek and to save the lost." Since He is the Master and we are His slaves, shouldn't I be about the Master's business daily? And since the Master, Jesus Christ, lives inside of me, shouldn't I be seeing Him continue His work of seeking and saving the lost in and through my life?
Jesus Christ didn't go to the cross just so we could have happy homes and a holy huddle. He didn't die and bear the sins of the world just so that your sex life would be satisfying. And, He didn't suffer the severance of His relationship with the Father and enter into death's clutches so that we could eat, drink, and be merry and fulfill the American dream.
He came to seek and to save those who were lost.
We are part of the solution
Look around you. Is your neighborhood morally stronger than it was 10 years ago? What have you done to make a difference? The Army of God needs fresh troops who are willing to get into a foxhole. The enemy is real. The message is more powerful. The hour couldn't be more urgent. And your family is an important part of the solution.
"So what do I do?" you ask. Here are a few ideas. Don't let this list overwhelm you. The important thing is to start ... somewhere ... with something. Individuals can't do everything, but you can do something; and together, we will make a difference.
- How about an evangelistic dinner party at your home for a few couples that you know?
- How about a Good News Club for children in your neighborhood? Contrary to our culture's belief, children are valuable.
- How about purchasing a bundle of The Four Spiritual Laws? Leave some on your desk for people to pick up and read. Put some in your pocket or purse—share them or give them away as you go about your errands. Then ask those same people later what they thought of the booklet. America needs to be confronted with Jesus Christ on a personal level.
- Show your children how to share their faith. There are some great resources for children that they could give away to their friends. Invite a neighborhood child to go to church.
- How about you and a friend hosting an "evangelistic coffee" a couple of weeks before Christmas for your neighborhood or friends?
- And finally, how about promising yourself to try to share Christ with the next person you sit next to on a plane, bus or train?
And by the way, in case you think you may have all the time you need, I had always planned to share my faith with my next door neighbor. One day at work I got a call that he had been killed instantly in a freak gun accident. Christians must have a sense of urgency about our message—it is later than we think.
Why not make your growing Christian home the springboard for sharing the greatest news the world has ever heard? Someone has said, "It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail."
"The people who know their God will display strength and take action" (Daniel ll:32b).
May your home be more than a house.
Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
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