You and I make comparisons every day that are based on a person’s value in our personal life. In an age where public servants such as police officers, military, and politicians aren’t getting much respect, do you think these comparisons are initially based on outward looks and appearances? In our jobs, comparisons are normally based on work performance or future potential. Maybe decisions are based on proximity, as with a neighbor. Would you agree that we often make decisions about who we respect or let into our lives based on our comparing and weighing their usefulness to us?
Let’s briefly test and explore this by daring to compare a pastor to a firefighter. That probably seems like a silly comparison, but through this there is a very important lesson for each of us.
Here are a few interesting similarities:
- On Call 24/7 – Both pastors and firefighters are generally on call at all hours. Even if a firefighter is “off shift” or a pastor is “on vacation,” the pager or the cell phone however does not take breaks.
- Wants to help others – Both pastors and firefighters are public servants. You may hear about a crooked pastor or firefighter now and then, but in general they desire to be responsible to those who are in need. In this way both also intend to support the local community as much as possible.
- Can’t be everywhere – Both have limitations. Often times, crisis situations are more prevalent than the pastors or firefighters who are trying to handle them. Both the general population of a city’s citizens or church’s members have definite expectations of these public servants, and rightly so. But both groups should remember they can’t be everywhere at once.
- Extensive training – Both pastors and firefighters, if they are going to know what they’re doing or talking about, will have extensive and continual training in their ministry (service). Much like a doctor or lawyer, this is obviously necessary for those whom they are intending to serve.
- Wants to save others – Both have the goal to save lives. But here’s where the differences start to come into play. One is obviously more focused on an eternal salvation, the other on a physical salvation.
Before we examine a few of the differences, think again about how we make choices each day about who we let into our lives. So if you only could pick either a pastor or a firefighter to have in your circle, at this point would it be an easy decision which one?
Now take a look at those differences:
|1. may selflessly die as a hero||may selflessly die as a martyr|
|2. physical and emotional||emotional and physical|
|3. emergency medical treatment||emergency spiritual treatment|
|4. respected by those they serve||respected and hated by those they serve|
|5. fights with water||fights with living waters (God’s Word)|
|6. tries to rescue from fires||tries to rescue from fires of hell|
Looking at the comparison between pastor and firefighter, which do you think is more important to have in your personal life? As was mentioned in the beginning, it’s all about how you value each person and what they do for you. If you’re more concerned with your physical health and safety, you would pick a firefighter over a pastor. If you’re more concerned with your spiritual and eternal well-being, you’ll likely pick a pastor. So what’s the point?
The truth is that we make decisions daily about who is most important to have in our lives. Naturally, this is often based on the somewhat selfish question, “What can this person do for me?” How would you like a firefighter who, in the interest of self-preservation, wouldn’t come into your house if it were on fire? In reality, firefighters risk their lives for us every day! Or how would you like a pastor who could care less what you are doing with your life? The word “pastor” literally means “shepherd.” What happens when a shepherd of Christ doesn’t care about the sheep for which he is responsible?
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
The real lesson here is in comparing these public servants to yourself, “Do I aspire and desire to be like a firefighter AND a pastor?” In other words, like a heroic firefighter, would I be willing to lay down my life for a family member, a friend, a stranger, or even an enemy? Or like a persistent pastor, am I willing to loving and patiently point out selfish and sinful behaviors in others, regardless of who they are? What we pray the Lord will teach us through these questions is that we are thinking about the physical or spiritual health of others, first. In the end, this is the selfless, sacrificial love we see best in the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Savior.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:12-14)
Compare Jesus to the firefighter and pastor, and He exceeds both perfectly. He desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). He didn’t come to do His own will, but the will of His Father’s in heaven (John 6:38). He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to this world to literally rescue you from your sin and from the eternal fires of hell (Matthew 25:41,46). He conquered death when He rose from the dead and promised, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). Your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is on call for you 24/7 and will never leave you or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5).
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
So you see? If we make our decisions based upon the reality of comparing JESUS to anyone else in our life the answer is simple. Jesus is the MVP of your life. He is beyond value. He is beyond any treasure. There is no comparison! Let’s continue to learn the lesson of Jesus’ selfless love for you and for me. And by His grace and help, let’s live it also!