The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!” And let him who hears say, "Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
I am reminded by these words that it is clearly the responsibility of the church (as the bride of Christ) to join with God in calling people to repentance. As followers of Christ, we not only have the privilege of sharing Christ's love; we also have the responsibility to lovingly confront sin and warn people of the consequences of saying no to God.
A couple of stories serve to illustrate our responsibility in this regard.
The first comes from Duncan Larcombe, who reported a story in the New York Post ("Quake Angel," www.nypost.com, 1-1-05) a few years ago about a little girl whose persistent pleas saved over a hundred lives during the infamous 2004 Indonesian Christmas tsunami.
In Phuket, Thailand, Tilly Smith, a determined 10-year-old girl, saved her parents and dozens of fellow vacationers from the deadly tsunami because she had studied a school geography lesson, and then courageously spoke what she knew to be true.
As Tilly's family enjoyed a day at Maikhao Beach, the sea began to bubble and rush away from the shore. While the adults were merely curious, Tilly was petrified with fear. "Mummy, we must get off the beach now!" she said. "I think there's going to be a tsunami."
The adults didn't even understand her warning until Tilly referred to it as a tidal wave. Once they understood, they all believed the youngster and evacuated the area. Minutes later the water surged right over the beach and demolished everything in its path. The resort was destroyed, but that section of beach was one of the few places along the shores of Phuket where no one was killed or even seriously hurt.
Tilly was praised for raising the alarm. "I think it's phenomenal that Tilly's parents and the others on the beach are alive because she studied hard at school," said the hotel's manager. "She's a hero."
Tilly gave the credit to her geography teacher for his lesson on how earthquakes cause tsunamis. She explained, "I was on the beach, and the water started to go funny. I recognized what was happening and had a feeling there was going to be a tsunami."
By contrast, the October 28, 2010 edition of Smithsonian Magazine carried an alarming story about the 2010 Indonesian Mentawai tsunami, titled "Did Broken Buoys Fail to Warn Victims of the Mentawai Tsunami?"
On October 25, 2010, a massive earthquake set off a tsunami that struck some Indonesian Islands. The tsunamis leveled whole villages, leaving hundreds dead or missing. According to the survivors, the deaths could have been avoided, or at least minimized. Unfortunately, the tsunami warning system—two buoys off the island—weren't working properly. As a result, they didn't alert the islanders to the coming danger.
Since 2004, experts have improved the tsunami detection network. The DART buoys (as they are called) measure wave height. If a buoy measures an unusual wave, it transmits that information to the shore. This system often provides the only warning signal for islanders to prepare for the oncoming danger.
Unfortunately, according to the report, the buoys "have become detached and drifted away. Sensors have failed. As many as 30 percent have been inoperable at any one time.” As a result, the buoys often fail to awaken people to the reality of future tragedy.
It strikes me that here you have the choice for the church. We must either remain silent like the buoys or else cry out desperately like little Tilly Smith. If, like the buoys, we "have become detached or drifted away," and if our love has grown cold or apathetic, we may very well leave others unprepared for the consequences of sin for, both this world and the next.
If, however, we recognize the seriousness of sin and the consequences of rejecting God, then we will remain ever vigilant in our quest to warn people of the judgment to come. The question for us, the church, is “Which will it be?’’ How will we respond? Whose life will we save? Whose salvation will we neglect?
Remember, church, why we are here. In the words of the Apostle Jude…
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire… (Jude 1:20-23)