My father was a firefighter. One of my earliest memories is my father driving the fire truck out onto the thickly ice-covered lake in Michigan where we lived so he could spray water over the ice. This created a smooth surface on which the community could ice skate. I also remember sliding down the fire pole at the fire station in New Mexico where he worked a few short years later. I guess it was from those experiences that I received my interest in such things. When I was a young man, I too, served on a volunteer fire department. Each Monday night we learned firefighting principles and techniques so that we would be equipped in the case of a fire. We would be prepared to try to protect life and property. On one such occasion, I arrived on the first truck at the scene of a house fire and a man standing outside said his uncle was still inside. Fully equipped with face mask and oxygen, fully outfitted with protective apparel, and fully trained for the job, my partner and I entered into the burning house with the firehose spraying water in front of our path. Sadly, we found the lifeless man on his couch and the house too far gone to save.
Now my father was a professional. My partner and I were simply volunteers, but just like my father, my job was to try to protect life and property so I did not hesitate to enter that burning building. Do I consider myself to be extraordinarily brave? Not in the least, but I saw the flames and I knew there was someone in danger. I understood that was my job as a firefighter. I could do nothing less.
Ray Comfort, an Australian evangelist, likened us Christians to firefighters. Trained in every way, fully equipped and commissioned for the task, yet he said we act more like bystanders. He asked what we would think of a firefighter who wouldn’t engage the fire, who simply stood back when lives were at stake and property was being destroyed. Friends, we need to see clearly the fire that is raging and the souls that are in danger. Some of us are professional and some of us are volunteers, but we are all firefighters and we need to engage the fire. That truth is expressed in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as he says we have been saved by grace and saved to do good works. Firefighting is often a dangerous business, but how can we hesitate when souls are in danger as the fire rages?