Jesus for Lord and Savior

“God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

As I was reading the local newspaper, a headline in the Letters to the Editor column caught my eye. It simply stated, “Thanks Expressed for Saving Life.”  As I read on, I discovered that the writer was offering deep appreciation to someone she didn’t even know.  Apparently while eating at an area restaurant, she suffered a choking incident. A stranger applied the Heimlich maneuver, dislodging the food blocking her airway. During the course of events which followed, the ‘male hero’ exited the establishment while emergency service personnel took over. In the ensuing days, she went back to the restaurant inquiring as to the identity of this individual. But no one there know who he was. Now in a last-ditch effort to offer her appreciation, she penned the letter in hopes he might see it. While random acts of kindness occur each and every day, it is not often that we have a stranger to thank for our life.

Such was the case for major league baseball veteran Neil Walker.  During annual Roberto Clemente Day celebrations, the infielder often paused to remember that Clemente “literally saved my life.” Neil’s father, Tom Walker, pitched parts of six seasons in the big leagues, and he got to know Clemente playing winter ball in Puerto Rico. He was coming off his rookie season when, on Dec. 31, 1972, Walker was among a handful of ballplayers helping to load a small plane in San Juan with food, clothing and medical supplies, bound for Nicaragua. Clemente was to personally deliver the goods to ensure their safe arrival. Walker begged his idol to let him tag along on the trip, but Clemente urged him and several others to stay. About an hour later – the plane crashed killing everyone aboard, cutting short the career of one of the best baseball players of his era. Had Tom Walker been on that plane, he would not have fathered a son, Neil, 14 years later. Neil played with the Pirates, for whom the Hall of Famer Clemente had starred.

When I was rather young, our family and some friends traveled on several occasions to the Jersey shore. I had not yet learned to swim, so my parents insisted that I wear a flotation device around my waist. It helped me to lift over the waves not far off the beachline. In case I would get knocked over – it would also act as a life-saving device of sorts. As I grew in maturity and deepened in my Christian faith, I learned that there was another lifesaver whose name is Jesus. I came to understand that He is the Son of God who came to earth and died in our place so that we might be forgiven and have eternal life. As scripture states, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Accepting Jesus as one’s personal Savior means placing your faith and trust in Him. For no one is saved by the faith of others or forgiven by doing certain deeds. In order to receive this gift, one must personally act: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Speaking of calls to action, the apostle Jude used a vivid metaphor in describing the critical mission that every true believer has before them; that is to “snatch others from the fire and save them.” It is a paraphrase of what the church calls the Great Commission. Found in Jude 1:23, it is also referred to as the “firemen’s verse.” Jesus calls each of us who have experienced His rescue to willingly put our lives on the line in order to help save others. “This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers” (1 Timothy 4:10). It’s a simple act of gratitude for all who have been given a lifeline to extend it to someone else. As I observe the front lawns and house windows of others – I find it particularly interesting that every four years at this time, people are boldly willing to place signs in an affirmation of support for a particular presidential candidate. I wonder how many of them know Christ and, if so, would they be willing to display such a public pronouncement for Him?  Just imagine the sign as it might appear: “Jesus for Lord and Savior.” He’s got my vote. Does He have yours?

REFLECTION: Have you ever considered what is the worst thing that might happen to you by sharing your faith?  In your circle of relationships, who might benefit from hearing your story of God’s rescue in your life? Will you commit to finding an opportunity to share your story with this person in the coming week?

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