|CCORDING TO REUTERS, 11 West Africans were found mummified on a yacht that authorities believe may have been drifting for months. On board their dead bodies lay like raisins in the sun. It appears they had been cut loose by another ship, lost in a circular pattern of currents running between Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe.|
CBS News reported eight-year-old Evan Thompson was lost in a dense forest about 90 miles southwest of Denver, before rescuers with a dog team found him. While on his first camping trip, Evan wandered away and disappeared for four days. "Turned out he was hiding -- because the sound of the search helicopters above scared him."
Associated Press just reported hiker Terry Harlon, 48, of Shreveport, Louisiana, was lost for a week in the Rocky Mountain National Park, surviving off an apple, sunflower seeds, and water before a search helicopter spotted him and rescuers on foot got him to safety.
"Lost" in any situation spells tragedy. Whether it's one's health, mental state, status, job, home, family, friends, etc. -- to be "lost" is to be cut off. Apply the word to one's soul and it is the worst of tragedies -- to be cut off from God is hell.
The ultimate end of being spiritually lost is a place called Hell. Hell, sadly, is a joking matter for many. On June 6, 2006, there was a celebration in Hell, Michigan. There was a 666 party. Six hundred and sixty-six T-shirts and mugs celebrating the day's activities were sold. Everyone who came got a letter of authenticity saying they spent June 6, 2006, in Hell. According to Barna Research, only 32 percent of Americans believe Hell is "an actual place of torment and suffering where people's souls go after death."
Yet there is so much in the Bible about the "lostness" of man and a place called Hell. Jesus warned about it, calling Hell a place of "outer darkness." He described it as a place of "torment," "weeping and gnashing of teeth," and "everlasting fire."
Moreover, it should be noted when "Hell" was preached from the pulpit, there was less hell in the streets and in the home. But when "Hell" was no longer preached in the churches and largely abandoned as an outdated, archaic religious concept, one finds hell ran rampant throughout the culture.
To be spiritually lost has its present ramifications. Those who are spiritually lost are like the 11 West Africans, hopelessly and aimlessly adrift, caught up in whatever way the currents of time take them -- never reaching the shores of a better hope. Their souls, deprived of sufficient spiritual nourishment and the water of life, shrivel, dry up, and mummify in death.
Like the hiker from Shreveport, the spiritually lost survive in this life on their paltry provisions. Some feed primarily off materialistic pursuits. Famished for something to stem the tide of their inner hunger, others seek the thrills of life – entertainment, the party scene, the drugs and alcohol, the sex, the gambling. Some hope to quell the soul's hunger pains with religion, which often does more damage than good. Others hope to be satisfied by their philanthropic endeavors, only to find its all like feeding on a lone apple and few sunflower seeds.
And all the spiritually lost, unfortunately, are like little Evan. They're afraid of the real God, running and hiding from Him. They're scared He's going to deprive them of something. They're ashamed of their lot. All the while God only wants to rescue them.
Bible commentator and pastor of Philadelphia's renowned Tenth Presbyterian Church, the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice, wrote: "Originally man had life. When the first man and woman were created by God, they were created with that life that shows itself in communion [a relationship] with Him. Consequently, we learn they communed with God in the Garden in the cool of the day. When they sinned, this life was lost, a fact evidenced by their hiding from God. This has been the state of men ever since." Boice was right!
But thank God, the Bible also teaches the Son of Man (Christ) came to seek and save that which was lost. Christ is God, wrapped in humanity, reaching out to man to rescue him. Sin cuts man off, producing a state of spiritual restlessness, purposelessness, deprivation, fearfulness, and shame. Christ, however, by His sinless life, vicarious death on the Cross, and bodily resurrection from the dead saves Adam's race.
Still, there's a dire warning for the wise here. It's not enough to simply believe these matters are true with one's head. Arthur E. Holt in Christian Roots of Democracy once admonished: "The sense of being lost doesn't make a man a Christian. It only proves he is a man."
A personal decision to trust Christ alone for salvation is necessary. To realize one's lostness is to realize one's helplessness to save one's self. There must be an abandonment of every effort to affect a self-redemption by various good works, which are always insufficient, or a supposed redemption by some other religious personage or dogma. Christ must be called upon in prayer and relied upon in life as the only Savior.
In a sermon titled "What It Means to be Lost," Dr. W.A. Criswell, the legendary pastor of the First Baptist Church, Dallas, noted: "One time I read that if the world were one vast circle of granite, and a little bird came here to sharpen his beak once every thousand years, when the whole earth had been worn away, one second of eternity will have passed. Our minds cannot enter into God's endless eternity. Lost forever and ever and ever, no opportunity again, no second chance. Dying lost without Christ, without hope, without God. O Lord, how tragic!"
Indeed, how tragic!
Rev. Mark H. Creech (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.
More columns by Rev. Mark Creech