The California wildfires have led newscasts this week, featuring gripping visuals of scarlet flames destroying homes and devouring vegetation, sending up suffocating smoke for miles around. From the safety of my Seattle home, I watch and wonder at the bravery of the thousands of firefighters battling those blazes.
Imagine being these men and women, voluntarily entering a scene that seems straight out of hell. Imagine rushing toward danger even as others are fleeing. Firefighters don’t think twice. It’s their job to go where lives are at stake.
I believe this is the role of the church in the world. Jesus called his followers to be the firefighters of the world’s pain, called to rush toward suffering and bring comfort, healing, and hope. Jesus modeled this, compassionately caring for people in need, even those considered unworthy or untouchable.
When Jesus says, in Matthew 25, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in …,” he made it clear to us that these acts of succor are not optional – they are, in fact, inextricable from loving him.
Churches are like fire stations where we learn, train, and grow in our calling. But when there’s a fire, we’ve got to get out of there. We’ve got to respond to suffering in whatever form it takes.
What I see today is a worrisome trend of God’s people hesitating rather than rushing to the rescue of those in need. It’s no different than if the fire alarm went off and the firefighters simply ignore it. Political rhetoric around those who are “other” has leaked into our thinking, causing us to react in fear toward people who aren’t like us. It’s as if we think John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the United States of America that he gave his one and only Son …”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Richard Stearns