Good morning my friends. I am sure your thoughts and prayers are going to the people of Haiti today as we receive more and more news of the widespread devastation in the capital. To hear, read and see that the capital is largely completely destroyed is hard for us to imagine. They say it is the largest earthquake ever to hit the area. Of course we need to do more than pray, we need to act. Even if we only have a couple of dollars to give, $2 times 100 million will go a long way to help out.
It is disasters like this that remind me that life is precious and feeble, and it comes with no guarantees. It can be snuffed out in an instant in an earth quake, house fire, stepping off the curb without looking, falling down a flight of stairs, a part of the body gives out or through disease like cancer or aids. Once death has come the grace of God has ended. Death is the final act and after that is left the judgment of God. It means that us rescuers should feel an even greater need to get the lifelines out to those who are dying. How many would be lost if that same earthquake had hit our city?
The thing I want us to keep in mind is that we should never judge a person's heart by their outward actions. We should never write anyone off because we do not know how the Spirit has prepared their heart or how God is going to reveal himself. If we look at Paul's example, we remember that he had such a hate on for the Church that he was going door to door to track Christians down to throw them into prison. This was a big time persecution at the hands of Paul. Paul never forgot what he was before Jesus intervened and he never forgot exactly what Jesus did for him:
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)
Paul had that keen awareness of God's grace because he remembered who he was before. He also realized he acted in ignorance and unbelief and was saved from it. No one would have ever thought it possible that Paul would become one of the great apostles and would carry the gospel of grace to the rest of the world. I wonder how many people we have all written off in our lives, believing that they will never change. The fact is, when Jesus steps in things change. Now give Paul some credit here; he did have a choice when he was confronted by Jesus, he could have run away and remained in his unbelief as thousands of people do every day. Instead he submitted himself to the Lordship and instruction of Jesus.
Not everyone has a Damascus Road experience. Jesus does not show up for everyone. Sometimes it is simply the overwhelming conviction of the Holy Spirit and a response to that conviction. Regardless of how, it is always when the person becomes aware of their sinful condition and separation from God. It is at that moment they realize why they need Jesus. My testimony is that I had a similar experience to Paul, when the presence of the Lord filled my bedroom and a voice thundered in my mind, Enough! There was no condemnation, just the stark reality of what I was and how much I needed the love of Jesus. I was on my face in my bedroom in an instant, and like Paul, remembering that moment has carried me through a lot of dark times. However, it was the years and years of preaching and teaching that laid the foundation to my understanding of how much I was a sinner when Jesus showed up in my bedroom. Without it I might not have chosen Jesus not realizing how much I needed him.
Now taking this back to Haiti we realize that many thousands of people died in their sin in this terrible disaster. The world will look and say "What a waste of life" but we look and say with a conviction in our heart, "What a wasted eternity". But remember, people cannot repent of their sin and their way of life which is contrary to God if they do not know they are sinners. How will they know if we remain silent?
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:14-15)
As we send money off to Haiti, and I pray you will, let us also consider the condition of the world around us. What would happen to these poor, dear souls if disaster hit? Will you not share the good news of Jesus Christ with your neighbour, friend, family? Demonstrate the truth of the gospel in your actions and in your words. Never write anyone off, you have no idea what God has planned and you do not know his approach of intervention. Just know that the words you speak are providing a foundation for the choice that person has or will have to submit to Jesus or to run away. Never think you are wasting your time and energy. Let us pray for the families of the victims in Haiti but let us also pray for the victims of sin all around us.