News headlines over the last two weeks have been filled with hurricane coverage as Harvey struck the Texas gulf coast and Irma made landfall in Florida. Everyone knows a hurricane is a serious and deadly weather event. Authorities called for anyone in the path of the storm to get away; to leave in the name of their safety. But in emergencies there are some people who are different. They don’t run from the hurricane, they run toward it. They are first responders, whose mission is to seek out and rescue anyone they can. My family saw a force of 1,500 from the Arkansas National Guard caravanning southward on Hwy. 67/167. It was a powerful image.
All around us rages a different kind of storm. It is not a physical, but a spiritual storm. This spiritual storm is not affecting only part of the population, but every single person. The Bible teaches we are all sinners living with no power. Unless someone is saved by Jesus through faith, not only is eternity at stake, but also a life of freedom, power, and fruitfulness. Our natural instinct is to get away. Just as Jesus came into the world to seek and save the lost, He has called every follower of His to be a first responder: to see needs and run toward those at risk of dying without Christ. Christians’ first priority is not to leave in the name of their safety, but to go in the name of their Savior. How can we be a “first responder” to the needs around us?
First, we must see the need. In Matthew chapter 9, verses 35-38, we see Jesus “went throughout the cities and village” and “saw the crowds.” He did not stay in one location, demanding that people come to him, while ignoring the rest. He went to the people and He saw the people and their spiritual needs. He realized they were “like sheep without a shepherd.” Do you see with spiritual, and not just physical, eyes? Do you see the needs around you?
Second, we must feel the need. When Jesus saw the crowds He felt deep compassion. His heart was broken. He was moved. It is one thing to see a need, but another to feel the need. Do you feel with, and for, others? Have you stopped to notice them, to hear their stories, and to be moved?
Third, we must meet the need. It is not enough to see or feel a problem. Even then, it is not enough to be equipped with resources to address the problem. Equipment, resources, and training are meant to be used. This truth hit me as I enjoyed breakfast last week with our local firefighters at the station. They were together in the same room, enjoying fellowship together- but they know that’s not their ultimate job. They are ready at a moment’s notice to leave the comfort of their building to do their job and respond to a variety of situations. Their facility, equipment, training, and uniform are not the point- doing their job is. How can you meet the spiritual needs of those around you?
At the end of the story, Jesus exclaimed, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” That is amazing. We often think no one cares about spiritual things. Jesus revealed that the problem is the opposite. The harvest is there but too few are willing to get dirty in the field. He urged prayer that many would be sent to meet the need. We were meant to be first responders. Will you be ready when Jesus calls?
Dr. Chris Larmoyeux is the pastor at First Baptist Church Maumelle. He and his wife, Tonya, live in Maumelle with their three children. You can email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.