Monday, December 20, 2004
Over the years, our family has had the chance to see Christmas from many different perspectives - Christmas in Manhattan, Christmas in Chicago's Loop, a mountain Christmas, a colonial Christmas, a white Christmas, a warm Christmas, and a one horse open sleigh Christmas. But it's a man named Nate Saint who, better than anyone else I know, may have captured Christmas from heaven's perspective. He was one of five American missionaries, called by God to go to the jungles of Ecuador to introduce the Gospel to one of the "lostest" people on earth, the primitive Auca (Waorani) Indians. Once they found the Aucas in the dense jungles, it was Nate who, as a seasoned pilot, landed them on a narrow beach by the Curaray River. I've stood on that beach where Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, and the others died at the hands of the Aucas. But today the men who murdered them are leaders of the Auca Church, and many, including me, were inspired by their example to serve Christ. On the eve of his last Christmas on earth, Nate Saint wrote his perspective on Christmas, and I can't get it out of my mind. I hope you won't either.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Real Christmas People."
As you listen to these words from one of heaven's heroes, listen knowing this is the heart of God about Christmas - maybe better than any card you'll read or sermon you'll hear. Here's what Nate Saint wrote in his journal on December 18: "As we have a high old time this Christmas, may we who know Christ hear the cry of the damned as they hurtle headlong into the Christless night without ever having a chance. May we be moved with compassion as our Lord was. May we shed tears of repentance for these we have failed to bring out of the darkness. Beyond the smiling scenes of Bethlehem, may we see the crushing agony of Golgotha. May God give us a new vision of His will concerning the lost - and our responsibility." Twenty-one days later, Nate Saint died, attemping to rescue some of those very people.
His words are hard to hear in the middle of all our Christmas activity. Aren't they? But they're important to hear because they reflect why there is a Christmas. It's all about a spiritual rescue mission that cost the Son of God His life. That mission was clearly spelled out to Joseph when the angel announced the coming of Jesus to him in Matthew 1:21, our word for today from the Word of God. "You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins." The very name Jesus means "the Lord saves" - that's "save" as in rescuers saving people from the rubble at Ground Zero, a firefighter saving people from a burning building. Sin is the burning building we're in, trapped with no way out - except for heaven's Rescuer, Jesus Christ, who gave His life rescuing ours with the "crushing agony of Golgotha."
But every day, we are with people who don't know that. Following Jesus means living to join Him in His rescue mission to save them. This season, when the celebration of Christ's coming seems to be filled with days that are so much about ourselves, about stuff - things that couldn't be farther from why there is a Christmas, could you call a timeout long enough to get with Jesus and pray this prayer? "Go ahead, Lord, and break my heart for the people around me who don't know you. Let me see what you see when you look at them. Help me feel some of your heart to rescue them from an awful eternity." And pledge to Him to do all you can to help people you know be in heaven with you.
Maybe even in these countdown days to Christmas, you can pray for God to open up some amazing opportunities to tell someone about Him - why He came, why He died, and what He does when we open our life to Him. Because Christmas is all about a rescue mission - to intervene for someone who is, in Nate Saint's words, hurling "headlong into a Christless night without ever having a chance." You can be that chance.