Two days ago news agencies reported an unusual rescue. French fire fighters released a 69-year-old lady who had been locked inside her bathroom for three weeks. This was a very serious, possibly fatal, situation.
Neighbours, who were troubled because they hadn’t seen her for a while, alerted the authorities and rescue workers broke into her flat. They found the woman weak but alive. She had survived by drinking tap water.
Every night she had tried to attract attention and get help by tapping on the water pipes. But her fellow-residents in the block hadn’t realized what the noise was. Thinking someone was doing late-night home repairs, they raised a petition to identify the culprit and stop them.
How easy it is for us Christians to do the very same thing, if we ignore people who are outside the church – maybe even find them annoying. But they are trapped – locked into a place of spiritual need. They need help to be released and find their freedom in Christ.
Many are frantically “tapping the pipes” and crying for help. But their anti-social behaviour or their ignorance of “the way we do things” makes us uneasy.
Praying fervently for God to send needy people into the church is not enough, especially when we are looking only for people who are “like us”, and who “know how to behave”. We need to listen, be aware of the signals our neighbours and colleagues are sending, and take the opportunities God gives us to show the love of Christ to them.
We may need to step out of our comfort zone and into their world before we can expect them to come anywhere near our churches. We will definitely need to stop and begin listening to them, before we have earned the right to speak to them about the things that are important to us.