Witnessing and Life Boats

Witnessing: Fear of Trying

By Jim Allen

In my last post I spoke briefly about Titanic, a steam liner that struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York in 1912. Although history shows there were too few lifeboats for the number of souls onboard, two closely aligned controversies about the lifeboats surfaced during the British inquiry following the maritime disaster. The first controversy was about the number of lifeboats that were partially filled, resulting in unnecessary loss of life. The second controversy was about those in the lifeboats who made "little to no effort" in helping those thrashing about in the frigid Atlantic.

Of the twenty lifeboats launched that fateful night, one made an attempt to go back and look for survivors but only after hypothermia had silenced the cries of most. While working their way through what appeared to be a never-ending field of lifeless bodies, the lifeboat crew saved only six that night. Had they not delayed, many more would have been rescued. During the British inquiry, an investigator asked the Titanic officer commanding the rescue boat why he delayed the rescue. Of all the excuses given, the most notable given was "fear" that the lifeboat would be swamped by people during the rescue attempt.

Witnessing: Indifference and Fear

In a Christian online video, a commentator asked believers what prevented them from witnessing to people. Most said they feared people would not understand, think they were weird, twisted, and like so fake. Others feared people would not understand and worried they would be unable to answer questions about their faith. Most were willing to witness but allowed fear to rule their hearts, causing them to delay or make no attempt.

Several years ago, I organized an outreach to our community by sponsoring a free seminar to talk about "life after death." The seminar went off without a hitch. Although people from the community came, only two laity from church attended. The senior pastor, associate pastors, deacons, and membership had other Saturday afternoon commitments and did show up. In fact, no one asked about the seminar until weeks later. Soon after the outreach, I left the church and now today view them as "rescued survivors" sitting in lifeboats, praying, fellowshipping, and singing praises to Jesus while thousands perish in their midst. Indeed, the world is correct to look upon the church and mutter, "Like so fake."

Witnessing: Unprofitable Faith?

Josh McDowell, an evangelist, is reported to have said, "The faith of most Christians (even that of many pastors) will not stand up to intellectual scrutiny. This is a concern because pastoral inability to present biblical truth comprehensibly and relevantly has led to the demise of the church." Putting pastoral ineptness aside, God commands believers to go into "all the world" and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Genuine believers will make the effort to preach the word and be ready in and out of season with answers to hard questions. They will convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2). Unfortunately, the Great Commission has been denigrated by "the inept" and overtaken by "charlatans" who are vain in thought, word and deed. As a result and while the task of rescuing people is now exceedingly more difficult, the need to keep trying is paramount.

The good news is that although the visible church, like the Titanic, has suffered irrevocable damage from striking the iceberg of apostasy, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a sure foundation, a watertight lifeboat wholly capable of saving all who seek to be rescued (John 3:16). While there is still time, let us not delay and return to rescue some.

Image Credit: Mihaly Zichy (1827-1906); "Lifeboat (1847)"; Public Domain

comments powered by Disqus
Published 1-24-12