One of the greatest blessings we have in this world is the opportunity to go to Heaven. God has provided a way for us, for the grace of God has appeared to all men. We understand, we have the opportunity to go to Heaven to be with God.
But the greatest tragedy in the world would be the loss of a soul.
- Matthew 16:24-27
Oftentimes, we look at this verse and apply it to our own lives. That we are to take up our cross daily. We need to be following Him and must give up our lives to gain eternal lives.
What on earth is worth more than a soul? What is worth more than your soul, or my soul, or the souls of all those in the world?
This world is no stranger to tragedies, but the greatest tragedy of all is for one soul to be lost. This world is no stranger to tragedies! Modern, catastrophic events bring to mind the tragic loss of human life. However, untold millions anciently also died horrifically in natural disasters, widespread disease, and military conflict.
Think of all those who died in the flood. They had the preacher, Noah, and the opportunity to be saved. Yet, they spurred it and were lost. Throughout history, there have been terrible tragedies.
Earthly Disaster Are a Terrible Tragedy
Throughout history, millions have died by tragedy. Think about the time of about 1918-1920, about 22 million people around the world died of a flu epidemic. Covid 19 has been blamed for more than 824,000 deaths in the US since 2020 and about 5.5 million worldwide. Think about the tsunami that happened back in 2004, in the Indian ocean, it killed about 230,000 people from 11 countries. Think about 9/11 and what happened there and about 3,000 people died.
Just last month an outbreak of tornadoes ravaged across Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennesse, about 90 people died. Think of the efforts to rescue people from various businesses that collapsed.
These things are commonplace. You see them all the time in the news. It's heartbreaking when we see the loss of lives. Every time these things happen there is a great large-scale operation that happens in the hopes of saving others. Many donate money, and time, to help these people out.
In 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The coastguard alone with about 5000 coast guard personnel were involved and rescued 33,500 people in the floodwaters, and many other organizations were involved. There was a great effort put into it.
During the 2004 tsunami, people came from all over the world to help those countries who were affected. Tens of billions of dollars were spent. We see that when bad things happen in this world there is a great response to that. Because we understand the value of human life.
The Greatest Tragedy
As awful as the catastrophic loss of human life is, the greatest tragedy of all is for one soul to be lost.
- Matthew 16:26
What is more valuable than a single soul? The entire world is worth less than one soul. This, of course, does not minimize the human tragedies in either the recent or distant past. All loss of life is tragic. Sometimes we are simply numbed by the sheer number and horrific nature of human tragedy.
However, it is important to prioritize spiritual things foremost in the lives of Christians and congregations of the Lord’s church. We're to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
- Matthew 6:33
We're to seek first to expand the borders of the Lord's church. Every child of God is obligated to love God foremost.
- Matthew 22:37
The physical lives of people are secondary to the spiritual lives of people.
God must be above family allegiances, even our families.
- Matthew 10:37
As Christians and the Lord's church, we have an overriding, God-given mission to evangelize the world. This mission was given initially to just a few men.
- Matthew 28:19-20
- Mark 16:15-16
They were to go into all the world. This great commission is given to us as it was given to them. This means that the primary mission of the Lord’s church is to broaden the borders of the kingdom of God, to make disciples of the nations.
We spend too much time and money and are concerned with incidental and peripheral matters, like the building of the building. When we focus more on the padded pews, air conditioning, law care, than we do on evangelism, then we are focused on the wrong things.
Yes, by biblical implication and correct inference, it is right to have church buildings with all of their trappings, but Jesus commanded that we take the Gospel to the whole world.
The effect of Christians like the apostle Paul and those who labored with him was to ‘turn the world upside down.’
- Acts 17:6
They were causing a disturbance, turning the world upside down. That means that the early church saturated the world, one community at a time, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes the church was called “that way,” referring to the way of life characteristic of Christianity that was spreading around the first-century Roman world.
- Acts 19:9, 23; 24:22
This way, was a way of life that was disrupting the Gentile world. Felix understood that something was happening and he wanted to know more. Paul preached to him and he trembled. Christians and the church have the divine mandate of taking the ‘whole counsel of God’ to the whole world. We're not just preaching the facts that Jesus died for our sins, but we preach the whole counsel of God.
- Acts 20:27
Yet, though everywhere the apostle Paul went preaching the Gospel he normally had a great Gospel meeting or he had a riot (or both). Oftentimes, comparatively few souls became Christians through Paul’s efforts, for example, in the city of Athens.
- Acts 17:32-34
The whole city was filled with Paul's preaching. Those of the Areopagus wanted to hear more. But, very few obeyed.
It is possible also that after the dust clears from deliberate efforts to evangelize any community that few will obey the Gospel. Still, it is the Christian’s responsibility and the church’s obligation to tell people about Christ, which if we do, we are successful as far as God is concerned.
- 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
Will God give the increase if no one plants? Or, if no one waters? God is doing the work if we put in the effort. It's His message we are trying to teach to convert. Some may hear the message and reject it, but later someone else preaches the same message and is watered and converted, God gives the increase. Consequently, Christians and the church need to be aware of the lost world and amply motivated to reach it with the Gospel.
We do need to show benevolent love to those who are in physical need.
- Galatians 6:10
But more important than that, we must be concerned about those who are lost spiritually. There are no greater tragedies than a soul lost in the eternal fires of hell. That should be our greatest concern. Jesus said He came to seek and save the lost. As an apostle, Paul was gravely aware and concerned about many congregations in the first century,
- 2 Corinthians 11:28
He had a great concern for the spiritual welfare of the Lord's church. Since he had great dedication to the cause of Christ, he was willing to endure great persecution, affliction, and deprivation for the advancement of the church.
- 1 Corinthians 11:23-27
- Philippians 3:4-8
Everything that Paul had, everything he had accomplished was not as important as serving the Lord. Likewise, each elder, deacon, preacher, teacher, and all other members need to have an unquenchable interest in and concern for the welfare of the church and those who are a part of it.
- 1 Corinthians 11:28
Paul's mission was to turn people from darkness to light, to teach the whole counsel of God, to turn people from lost to saved.
This world is no stranger to tragedies, but the greatest tragedy of all is for one soul to be lost. What will matter when this life is over is whether our souls are saved. What will matter when this life is over is have we tried to take any with us to heaven.
We looked this morning at Luke 19 and the parable of the pounds. God would have been happy if they had just put it in the bank and gained interest, the least he could do. But, he didn't try. That's the case, sometimes, we don't try. The effort is what matters.
We referred to Noah earlier. He preached for 100 years. How many did he save? None. But, he put forth the effort.
The greatest tragedy is the loss of a soul.
Surely, no one wants to be a statistical entry in either the catastrophic loss of human life or the unthinkable loss of souls in eternity. As Christians, we need to be doing the Lord's work.
If you are here today, as a Christian who hasn't been living right, you can come back, 1 John 1:9. If you are a child of God who has not been faithful to the calling of God, we urge you to repent.
If you are perhaps not a child of God we urge you to put on Christ in baptized for the remission of your sins. Then, you too can go to Heaven to be with God for eternity.
If we can help you in coming to know the fullness of God's love and His tender mercy, we invite you to contact us.