Silly title, I know, but this is what has been on my mind today. I watched a video of a horse rescue. It wasn’t brilliantly shot, edited, polished and produced. The video kind of looks like someone made it on their phone and added some background music and informational slides at the beginning and end. (I’m really selling this here, aren’t I?) All of that to say the video is not magnificent in and of itself.
Here is what it depicts, and you can watch it below, in 2006 a group of horses was stranded on a small island after a storm caused the North Sea to flood over typically dry land. The horses were stranded for three days. In spite of efforts to feed them or rescue them by boat, 19 horses dies. Then 6 women had a brilliant idea. They had rescue workers find the best route off of the island and mark it. Then they rode their own horses to the island and ushered the stranded animals to safety.
Every horse made it.
What does this have to do with the Gospel, you might ask? It struck me while watching that this is the message of the Gospel lived out. God saw us in our desperate state. He didn’t leave us to die, but made a way, marked it out, and crossed the divide first in order to usher us to safety.
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:4-5,14
And he has commissioned us to do the same.
Those of us who are sitting safely on dry land often look at those still stranded in a desperate state and yell at them for not simply making the crossing, even though they have no idea where the safe pathway lies. We may try to manage their situation, we may try to help them survive, but our mission is greater. We are not primarily meant to help people manage the consequences of sin. Instead, we are commissioned to cross the channel, and lead them back to dry ground.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
So often the Gospel is presented as a sin management program. It is so much more, so much more beautiful. It is the story of God with us, coming to us, living among us. It is a path out of darkness, into the light. It tells of a God who did not leave us to figure things out for ourselves, but carved a path to life, paving the way with his sacrificial love. It is a crossing over from death to life. It is a message of hope to those whose hope has run out. It is freedom.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
Our model is Christ, if we call ourselves his followers.