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The Parable of the Lifesaving Station

I believe it was Steven Covey who first said that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Over the many years that I have walked with Christ, I have seen that the Body of Christ (The Church) is multi-faceted. Like a diamond with its many cuts glimmering with different colors, the body of Christ in each place emphasizes different goals and priorities in ministry, reaching beyond each local area to the world. Sometimes we can find that the main thing ceases to be the main thing. What should be the "main thing" in each local body of Christ? Plans and strategies are good, but they are only tools. A strategy or mission should support the Great Commission that the Church has been given and not become the end in itself. I want to highlight this point with a story I came across.

The Parable of the Lifesaving Station

There was once a crude little lifesaving station on a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost. This wonderful little station saved many lives so that it became famous. Some of those saved and various others in the surrounding areas wanted to become associated with the station and give their time, money, and effort to support its work. They bought new boats and trained new crews. The little lifesaving station grew. Some of the new members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge for those saved from the sea.

They replaced the emergency cots with beds and improved furniture in an enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a favorite gathering place for its members, and they redecorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club. Few members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The purpose of lifesaving was still discussed, but most of the team members were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to participate in the lifesaving activities personally. About this time, a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.

They were dirty and sick, some had different skin colors, some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where shipwreck victims could be cleaned up before coming inside. At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's lifesaving activities, as it was unpleasant and hindered the club's regular pattern. But some members insisted that lifesaving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin another lifesaving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes as the old station. They evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station began. If you visit the seacoast today, you will find many exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but now most of the people drown![1]My brothers and sisters, we have to keep the main thing the main thing! People are drowning all around us. Keith Thomas

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Taken from the Discipleship series, study 7, The Main Thing

[1] Taken from Personal Evangelism 101, by Brent Hunter.


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