December 20, 2023
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Over the years, our family's had the chance to see Christmas from many different perspectives: Christmas in Manhattan, in Chicago's Loop, a mountain Christmas, a colonial 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 the jungles of Ecuador to introduce the Gospel to one of the "lostest" people groups on earth, the primitive Auca (Waorani) Indians.
Once they found the Aucas in the dense jungles, it was Nate who, as the seasoned pilot, managed to land them on a narrow beach by the Curaray River. Well, I've had the privilege of standing on that beach where Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, and three other men died at the hands of the people they had gone to reach. But years later the men who murdered them had become the leaders of the Waorani Church, and many, including me, were inspired by their example to give our lives to serve the Lord Jesus. There were countless people who went into God's work because of that example. On the eve of his last Christmas on earth, weeks before his death, 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 "Your Christmas Mission."
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 Christ-less 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 attempting to rescue some of those very people.
You know, His words are hard to hear in the middle of all of our Christmas activity aren't they? But they're important to hear because they reflect on 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. We're trapped with no way out except for heaven's Rescuer, Jesus Christ. He came and gave His life to rescue ours, and He went through the "crushing agony of Golgotha."
But every day, we are with people who don't know that. See, 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 honestly 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 unspeakable eternity." And pledge to Him to do all you can to help people you know be in heaven with you.
Tell them about 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, hurtling "headlong into a Christ-less night without ever having a chance." You know what? You could be that chance.