JANUARY 2001 – Once upon a time there was a region on the Northeast Coast that was very dangerous for ships because of many hidden shoals and rocks and sudden unexpected storms. Ships were being sunk, lives were being lost, families broken apart, and many sailors injured for life because of shipwrecks in the area.
One day a concerned individual came up with an idea. Why not build a lifesaving station in the area? Its purpose would be to warn ships in advance and to rescue those who were wrecked. He shared his idea with a few friends and neighbors, and before long they had built a lifesaving station, bought boats and buoys, and even built a lighthouse.
It was such a good idea that many people joined in. Many lives were saved, many families held together, and many injuries avoided. For years, people were proud of the good that the lifesaving station did.
Over a period of time, the lifesaving station became a central part of their lives. They held fellowship suppers, social events, and special meetings at the building. Then one day some of the members of the lifesaving station decided that the old building needed repair. The furniture was worn, the seats and facilities uncomfortable. So the people decided to build a new lifesaving station.
When it was completed, they had the largest, most beautiful, most functional lifesaving building around. They increased the number of activities in the building. They held all kinds of social events. More and more people became a part of their lifesaving fellowship.
But a strange thing was happening. Fewer and fewer people were willing to go out and warn the ships, and even fewer were willing to go out in a storm to rescue sailors from a wrecked ship. The activities at the lifesaving station took all their time. They just didn’t have time to save lives. So they decided to hire others – professional lifesavers – to do the job for them. They could support the lifesaving station without becoming directly involved in the difficult, unpleasant job of saving lives.
Several years later the members of the lifesaving station decided that the lifesaving activities were taking too much of their money. It was costing more and more to support their lifesaving station and its activities in the manner to which they had become accustomed. They needed the funds to support their lifesaving station, so they stopped paying the professional lifesavers.
Many years later a member of the lifesaving station asked what their purpose was. “Why, of course,” answered a member, “to provide a nice place for us and our families to fellowship, to have our community and social events. Why do you ask?”
Let me tell you another story. Once upon a time, there was a society where people lived in the midst of immorality and didn’t know Christ. Knowing that one of the by-products of a society undergirded by Christian values was a moral society, some Christians decided to build a church. …
Editor’s Note: From the late 1970s through 2010, Don Wildmon, founder and president emeritus of American Family Association, wrote hundreds of monthly columns for AFA Journal. Thirty-one of his best columns are now available in a recently published collection titled Our Call to Faithfulness: The Voice and Legacy of Don Wildmon. These columns represent his timeless wisdom and insight and are now being published weekly on The Stand in celebration of AFA’s 40 years of ministry.
Click here or call 877-927-4917 to order your own copy of Our Call to Faithfulness: The Voice and Legacy of Don Wildmon.