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A parable for our time…

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, went out day and night tirelessly searching for those unfortunate enough to be lost at sea. This wonderful little station saved many lives, and before long it became rather famous. One day some of the people who had been rescued said they were so grateful they wanted to volunteer to help with the lifesaving activities. Plus, a few of them made sizeable financial donations to the station. New boats were purchased and new crews were trained. The lifesaving station grew.

Then the members began noticing how crude were the furnishings in the station. So they enlarged the building, replaced emergency cots with beds, and installed better furniture. Before long the building was so cozy it became a gathering place for members. In time they thought of it as a kind of club. Fewer and fewer members were interested in going to sea on actual lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do that work.

By and by a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They dragged seaweed all over the carpet. Their damp clothing left wet spots and stains on the furniture. The members of the lifesaving station were upset, and at their next monthly meeting a majority voted to curtail all lifesaving activities. “They are hazardous to us personally, and a hindrance to our life together in this club,” they said. Others protested that lifesaving was the reason for the station’s existence, but they were voted down. The dissenters walked out and started their own lifesaving station down the coast.

Over the years the new station underwent the same sort of changes as the old. Before long another lifesaving station was founded. Then another. And another. If you visit that seacoast today, you will find many exclusive clubs along the shore calling themselves lifesaving stations. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

Jesus said, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4).

The Rev. Dr. Paris Donehoo

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