Trapped many stories up in a burning building, surrounded by smoke and flames, and having no idea how to escape, you are terrified, confused and hopeless. You drop to the floor and begin to crawl to what you hope is the exit, but you keep running into desks, walls, and other desperate people. Despair begins to overtake you. Then a calm voice breaks through, calling out, “Follow me! Come this way! You can escape using these stairs!” Intense relief, joy, hope, and an urgency to follow that voice to safety surge through you! You follow without a second thought. It is indeed the way to safety, and you rejoice as you run down the stairs and out of the building! That’s what happened to some very fortunate individuals who had been trapped after United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower on September 11, 2001. That calm man, known then as “the man in the red bandana” and later identified as Welles Crowther, died rescuing others that day. He is – and will always be – hailed as a hero, and rightly so. Now imagine if Mr. Crowther had found the passable stairway, run down it joyfully to safety – and not taken the time to tell anyone else about it. Our perception of him would be far different. We would see him as selfish and wonder how he could look at himself in the mirror each morning, knowing that he had thought only of his own welfare.
Someone recently asked, “Why are you Christians so obnoxious about sharing your beliefs?” And I immediately thought of the man in the red bandana. I have no desire to be obnoxious. I am one of those people who loves peace, wants to be liked, and would be quite happy to “live and let live.” But the stakes are just too high. I believe with all my heart that this life is not the end. When we come to the end of our earthly life, I believe we will go to one of two places – heaven or hell. And I believe there is only one way to enter heaven, by following Jesus there. Sometimes I hear people say, “I can’t believe in a God who would send people to hell.” But it isn’t a matter of Him sending anyone to hell. No one has to go there. The choice is yours. He sent His Son, Jesus, to rescue us and provide the payment for our passage into heaven. He gave His life to rescue yours! You can choose to follow Him, or you can choose to reject Him. He doesn’t force His will on us. If people ignored Mr. Crowther’s advice to follow him to safety, we would not blame him for their demise. They made their choice to go their own way. If you choose to reject Jesus, you will spend your eternity where there is literally nothing good – only evil – as God will be completely absent. It makes me shudder to think of being there. It makes me weep (literally!) to think of any of you being there. And so I am intentional about pointing you to the way of escape and praying that you will follow it. If that is obnoxious, I am okay with being labeled as such.
Today, the people who were rescued by Mr. Crowther sing his praises and love to retell the story of this heroic young man who gave his life for theirs. They try to live their lives more purposefully because they know another gave his life for them. They realize how close they were to death, so they take more joy in the things that many of us take for granted. That is how I feel about Jesus! He has not only provided a way of escape from hell, He has given me a life of joy, peace and purpose in the midst of this often very complicated and painful life. I have tried to find joy and fulfillment in so many other things, and I have never been successful! Jesus has rescued me from fear and shame, and He has filled that empty, longing place inside of me with His love! I want to sing His praises to everyone and introduce everyone to Him.
There is no choice of “live and let live.” If I choose not to share Jesus with you, I am essentially saying I am content to live and let you die. And I love you far too much for that! If we were in that burning building together and I discovered the safe passage, I would be screaming out your name, desperate to make sure you could access it as well. And the stakes are much higher when your eternal destiny is in question. That is why l tell you about Jesus, post about Him on Facebook, and share resources that tell about Him. It’s because I love you, I believe there is a burning building to escape, and I believe I know where the only passable stairwell is! I hope everyone will investigate to see if what I say is true. I really hope you will come to know Jesus as I do. Because I really want us to walk victoriously together in this life – and live in paradise together in the next life. I would so love to talk more with you about my precious Jesus and His plan to rescue you! So please don’t hesitate to ask me!
For those of you who already know Jesus, will you be the one calling out, “There is a way of escape! Let me show you where it is!”? Or will you be the one who joyfully runs to the escape and allows the others around you to perish? Can you really claim to love Jesus if you don’t love others enough to tell them about Him?
I love you so very much, dear friends! I am praying for you!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” -Jesus