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For months, the miners trapped underground in Chile captured the hearts and imagination of people around the world. Utterly helpless to do anything about their plight themselves, they had no choice but to rely on the efforts of others who worked day and night to rescue them.
In many ways, the plight of the miners is an allegory of the spiritual condition of all humanity. Spiritually speaking, all of humanity has been trapped in a life-threatening environment. The Bible calls it “sin and death.” Like the miners, we are utterly helpless and unable to do anything about our dire predicament. Just as the cave-in cut off the miners from the outside world, sin is a barrier, keeping people from the life God created them to have. But there is good news – a rescue is under way.
I am sure that as they waited for rescue, the miners explored their options. They had picks, shovels and some quite sophisticated mining equipment. Could they dig their own way out, they must have wondered? But the reality was that no amount of work on their part would be enough. They were in too deep. For them, the only hope was help from above, from those who care.
What a great relief it must have been when after 17 days of being cut off from everything, that first narrow borehole broke through. Although it was not large enough to get them out, it was a means by which food, air, and news could reach them, as well as a source of hope and encouragement through the long months of waiting.
Each of these boreholes was like the gospel – a conduit through which God sends us the good news of our rescue from sin and death, together with sound spiritual nourishment and hope.
Sadly, the gospel is often misused to spread a negative message of condemnation, fear and spiritual intimidation. It is like sending the trapped miners a steady stream of information about what is going wrong and how bad their situation is, and then demanding evidence that they fully understand their plight, that they really want to be rescued, and even that they start living as though they are on already on the surface before the rescue can proceed.
Jesus didn’t wait until humans proved anything. He died and rose for us while we were still sinners, Paul tells us twice in Romans five.
Those who believe that good news – the gospel – can see past the gloom of the moment and know that the joy of rescue is ahead. The gospel is good news, not bad news. It’s all about grace and truth and hope, not fear and worry and uncertainty. After all, that’s why the angel told the shepherds, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.