By Lane Palmer of Dare 2 Share
“Normal’s dead and buried underneath Ground Zero. I’m just trying to make sense of what’s left above ground.”
So states Tommy Gavin from the FX drama series Rescue Me. This intense production follows the fictitious lives of firefighters in the FDNY who were first responders to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. In a nutshell, Tommy Gavin is a courageous and even heroic character who is beset with deeply troubling internal issues. Not that we all don’t have our own problems that cause difficulty in our path, but Tommy has the majority of us looking pretty stable.
He’s an alcoholic, a womanizer, and carries on a perpetual wrestling match with severe mental and emotional issues. But despite all the baggage, Tommy Gavin saves lives. There is something within him that triumphs over his selfishness and emboldens him to risk his life to save people in need of rescue.
What “makes sense” to Tommy Gavin is that sometimes folks are in deadly situations, and they need help to survive – so it’s his passion and calling to save lives – even in the midst of his self-destructive path in life.
I know we are talking about a conjured up drama with actors and actresses, but Rescue Me makes a strong case for art holding up a huge mirror to real life – especially the life of a Christ follower.
Not that most of us (including me) could make it for one day as a firefighter, but in a very real sense anyone who has trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation has been rescued, which then automatically makes us rescuers in a spiritual sense:
Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment (Jude 1:23)
Just a little verse tucked away near the end of the Bible…so small in fact that many believers miss one of the most obvious and unmistakable responsibilities with which we have been charged by God Himself. We are rescuers and we are firefighters, but to our shame, many who claim to follow Jesus Christ are content to sit back and watch the fires burn.
Is this you? Perhaps you believe you have messed up or are too messed up to be a rescuer? If so, notice what the Bible verse didn’t say:
If you are living an awesome Christian life, rescue others.
If you are brave enough, rescue others.
If you are confident in sharing the gospel, rescue others.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, please hear this. The command is to “rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment” no matter what. The only qualification for this firefighting task is the ability to share the simple message of the gospel – period. You may be like Tommy Gavin – carrying around addictions and dysfunctions, but take a lesson from his character – when the fires start and lives are threatened; his focus is directed solely on the rescue.
Perhaps even more importantly, there is another parallel in Rescue Me that is worthy of mention. Tommy Gavin is haunted by the ghosts of the people he couldn’t save. The faces of those he couldn’t snatch from the flames have burned a permanent image into his psyche, because his commitment to his calling in life carries the liability of regret when people don’t make it out alive.
And shouldn’t it also with us? Is it possible that we will be haunted with the memories of the people God placed squarely in our life’s journey who were headed for judgment and we sat in the fire station and worried about staying safe and clean? I know this sounds harsh, but if we refuse to share the gospel and live out THE Cause, aren’t we guilty of failure in our firefighting? I know at least one person who agrees with this concept:
You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of everyone, for I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God” (Acts 20:20-21; 25-27).
This is the farewell speech that the apostle Paul gave to the people to whom he was called to preach the gospel, and clearly he indicates that if he had failed in this duty, there would be blood on his hands. Yet because he never hesitated to share the good news about Jesus, he could walk away innocent concerning their destiny.
You can see the flames and hear the voices of those trapped in their burning life…are you willing to rescue them?
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
The fact that people die every day apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ is one of the most tragic realities in the world. That’s why it is incredibly critical that Christians take the calling and the command to share the gospel as seriously as a firefighter who is at the scene of a burning building.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Jesus, we are surrounded by people who need to be rescued from the flames of judgment that engulf their lives. Holy Spirit, fill us with the fire of passion that gives us the boldness to speak the truth of the gospel into their lives. Help us see our unsaved friends as You do, and give us a passion for extending your message of grace to them.
Read: Romans 1:16. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
Get: You’re Next: Outrageous stories from my life that could change yours. Don’t sit on the sidelines while your friends stumble along trapped in their burning lives. Listen in on author Greg Stier’s real life stories from his younger years and learn how to step up and share God’s grace and truth with others!