“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world… 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:1-10
At the beginning of every summer there are 1000s of Life Guard Certification Classes all around the world that are teaching young men and women the basics on how to be a Swimming Pool Life Guard. One of the key skills they teach is that sometimes you have to dunk the drowning victim first before you can rescue them. This helps the drowning person to shift their attention from drowning to the dunking. Once the drowning victim is calm or distracted for a split second, then you as the Life Guard can perform the water rescue. The premise is that a drowning person is often in hysteria, so a good dunk from the Life Guard forces them to calm down, perhaps even stop their frolicking; then they can be rescued.
The drowning person needs to go from frolicking to receiving. They need to go from drowning to being rescued, from struggling for life to surrendering to their rescuer.
From struggling to accepting . . . from striving to receiving . . . from dying to living.
This basic image of accepting, receiving and living lies at the core of the Good News of God’s salvation story centered in Jesus Christ. From its beginning in Genesis, to its ending in Revelation, God’s salvation story is one of God’s initiative creating, calling, finding, making a covenant, sending, coming, dying, rescuing and rising to life again. John White in his book, The Fight, says it best, “Faith is man’s response to God’s initiative. Your first faith was the positive response you made to the Holy Spirit when he brought truth about Christ home to your heart. As God’s light dawned on you, you decided to bow your will to Christ and entrust your destiny to him.”
God acts first, we respond second.
To further the Life Guard analogy, we are drowning in sin and the brokenness of our lives, our decisions and the sins of others; and God sees us drowning. God makes the first move to come rescue us. Sometimes it seems like we get dunked in the pain of life first, but then God grabs us in our pain and in Jesus Christ drags us home to Himself. Oh sure, we still have to submit, receive, accept, and surrender to His rescue in Jesus. But, that is the easier part once we see and understand we are drowning and can’t rescue ourselves.
Think about all the great saints of the Bible and how God acted first in their lives, then they responded. Sometimes their responses were grand and other times not so much. But God in Jesus Christ enlightened by the work of the Holy Spirit keeps on rescuing anyway. Think about how God moved first in these lives: Adam/Eve (Gen. 1 -3), Noah (Gen. 6:8), Abraham (Gen. 12-21), Hagar (Gen. 21), Moses (Ex. 3), Samuel (1 Sam. 3), David (1 Sam. 16), Joseph, Mary, Peter, and Paul, among others.
The great blessing of God is that He seeks after us, finds us drowning in sin and rescues us in Jesus Christ. But, in the rescuing we must receive, believe, respond and put our faith in the Rescuer, Jesus Christ. Discipleship is about responding to God’s initiative.
Come Sunday mornings and gather with the rescued, the healed, the saved and brand-new disciples of Jesus Christ here at Church of the Holy Spirit. Celebrate the great rescue mission of God centered in Jesus Christ. Come and respond to all that God has done and is still doing in Jesus Christ, the great Rescuer of humanity.