Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Way to Safety

A passenger plane failed to take off properly, crashed through the fences and barriers at the end of the runway, skidded along its belly a great distance before doing a nose dive into a nearby river late at night. The aircraft was half in and half out of the powerful river current. The craft remained intact, but the wings and tail section of the plane remained on land while the nose, cockpit, and business-class section floated on the river. Only the pilot and the co-pilot knew that the front half of the plane was on the river, but the pilot was dazed and nearly unconscious from the crash.

The co-pilot knew that the strong current made the exits at the front end of the plane too dangerous. Anyone exiting the plane in that river would drown in the darkness. The co-pilot acted quickly. The crash knocked all the power out. He could not call the flight attendants or calm the passengers with the PA system.

Knowing that the primary exits in a crash are near the cockpit and that the flight attendants might soon try to open the forward doors, he exited the cockpit, turned on his flashlight, and began directing everyone to the back of the aircraft. Flight attendants were located at the front and rear of the plane, and the ones at the rear could not hear the co-pilot over the voices of panic and creaking noises of the crumpled plane.

The co-pilot instructed the flight attendants at the front of the plane not to open the doors because the water would come flooding in and could possibly pull the entire plane into the river. He then pushed his way through the frightened passengers toward the rear of the plane, encouraging everyone to remain calm. Every few rows, the co-pilot instructed everyone that the only safe exit was at the rear of the craft.

This process took a great deal of time and the passengers were getting more and more anxious to get off the plane. Fear spread throughout the craft. Someone shouted, "What if the plane catches on fire with these fully-loaded fuel tanks?" Another shouted, "The front exit is the largest. Why aren't we exiting there?" Yet another said, "If we use all the exits, we can all get off of here quicker!"

By the time the co-pilot reached the flight attendants at the rear of the plane, chaos had ensued. People began panicking and pushing in both directions. Others argued with those who were panicking to listen to the co-pilot and do what he says.

The co-pilot opened the rear emergency door and began safely disembarking the passengers. He used his flashlight to guide the frightened passengers toward him while the flight attendants on the ground took them to a safe, open area away from any potential explosion. Emergency personnel from the nearby airport began to arrive on the scene.

Little did the co-pilot know what was happening at the front of the craft. A few of the passengers near the cockpit chose not to follow the co-pilot or heed his instructions. Instead, they unleashed their panic on the flight attendants guarding the large exit door, shoved them aside, and tugged on the exit handle to get the door opened.

Thankfully, the flow of the river forced the door to stay shut long enough for everyone else, including the injured pilot and the flight attendants to get safely off the plane. Multiple attempts were made to control the panicked passengers and lead them safely to the rear of the plane, but they continued pushing against the door that would lead to their death should they succeed in their mission.

Finally, the emergency personnel from airport security boarded the craft at the risk of their own lives and forcefully removed the remaining passengers. Once the passengers who had defied the co-pilot's plan of escape were on the ground, they looked back toward the front of the craft, saw the powerful river that would have swept them to their deaths, and hung their heads in shame. Not long after everyone was safely removed from the sight of the crash, the force of the river overpowered the nose of the plane and wrestled the front half of the craft to the river's bottom.

The co-pilot's quick action and knowledge of the situation saved the lives of every person on board.

But wait. What if this story was a parable? What if the crumpled aircraft was symbolic of the world, the co-pilot was Jesus, and the front and rear exits of the craft represented hell and heaven, respectively?

Apply today's logic of tolerance and the world's overbearing and distorted hatred of anything that remotely appears to be intolerance of other's religious views to this situation. If YOU were on that plane, would you accuse the co-pilot of being intolerant for insisting that there is only one way to safety? Would you call the emergency personnel who forced you off the plane a bunch of narrow-minded bigots?

As a Christian, I believe the Bible is the Word of God. As such, I believe it is truth, not opinion. When Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6), I believe Him. When Peter said, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12), I believe him. When Paul wrote, "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9), I believe it!

So, when I stand at the corner of sin and salvation and point people in the direction of Jesus alone and you think me intolerant, bigoted, and narrow-minded, your disdain is for with the wrong person. Your argument is really with Jesus, Peter, and Paul (all three were Jews, by the don't think me anti-semitic, either).

What would you think of the co-pilot had he simply pushed his way through the passengers, shared his opinion that he thought maybe the back exit was the best, but then said, "Use whatever exit you think is best for you," and then left everyone in danger to figure it out for themselves?

Think for just a moment about the passengers who insisted on using the front exit. They were convinced they knew more than anyone else on board. They were determined to use the front exit, believing totally that it was a way to safety. It was only AFTER they were off the plane that they saw the error of their ways. Yet for them in this story, they were still safe. They just had to deal with their own shame and stubbornness that nearly cost them their lives.

But eternity is a different issue. You must decide to accept and follow Jesus before you disembark this physical world. You must live eternally with whatever decision you make now. Weigh your arguments carefully. Research truth honestly. This is no place to casually accept the fluff of pop culture. This is the biggest decision of your life.

This Way,
Perry Crisp

No comments: