- Read Colossians 1:12-14 here.
- If you missed Sunday’s sermon (16 January) you can listen to it here (the first minute or two are missing).
Our congregational theme for 2011 plays on the initials of our name, Lawson Road (LR). The first word was a no-brainer: LOVE. The second word continues to have me second guessing myself: RESCUE. While everyone on the planet should agree on the virtue and desirability of Love, perhaps only a minority would agree that they need Rescue. This means there’s a reasonable chance that using this term as a congregational theme will offend someone.
An article I read today (Myron Augsberger, 1990) captured some of my reservations regarding the term Rescue. Speaking as a well-educated white male moving to work in an inner city ministry, he wrote, I was going to the inner city, I explained, not to be like the people there or to rescue them heroically. I was going simply because I cared. Choosing the theme Rescue does not reflect our position of superiority in relationship to those around us. However, we face a distinct risk of developing an attitude of arrogance, or that we at least portray arrogance to people we encounter.
In order for this word to truly motivate the church we must adopt the fundamental truth “we have all been rescued.”
- For [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. (Col 1:13)
- the Lord Jesus Christ… gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. (Gal 1:3-4)
- Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thess. 1:10)
In each of these verses, the word Rescue is not used as a missional statement for the church, but as a description of the church. Only this consciousness can ensure we maintain our humility as we also pursue the mission of rescue.
Although Rescue doesn’t show up on every page of the Bible, we shouldn’t dismiss it as an insignificant word. To me, it’s synonymous with the concept of Salvation, which is a lot more common. (but doesn’t being with “R”) The logic may be a little convoluted, but I do believe the church has been given a mission of Rescue.
I don’t think there can be any argument that Christ has given the church the mission of spreading the message of the Gospel throughout the world. Romans 1:16 states, “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.” The message of the Gospel brings salvation, or rescue, to everyone who believes. Our commission is to spread that message of rescue as broadly afield as we can.
Jesus gives an example of how Love and Rescue complement each other in Matthew 9:36. First, Jesus sees the crowds and is moved with compassion, or love, then he sends his disciples out to expand his mission of proclaiming the kingdom of heaven (10:5). Likewise, our message of rescue must always be motivated by love to be effective, not personal or corporate ego.
So what do you think? Please share your reaction below.
- Do you think many people would find the term “Rescue” offensive as a church theme?
- Can you suggest an alternative “R” word for a church theme?
- What would you consider the biggest challenge: Getting the church to acknowledge their own rescue, or motivating them to share the Gospel of Rescue?