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Sunday, April 22, 2012

It was a monument to human arrogance

Last Sunday morning I was confronted by one of our Sisters at church who, in sort of a disappointed tone of voice, said that she was surprised to find that my editorial lesson was not based on the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. She was just sure that was what it would be about.

Well, maybe it should have been, however I already had written an editorial that related to a previous one so I went ahead with the one already prepared. But, I got to thinking that perhaps I shouldn't let the opportunity presented by the anniversary of such a famous tragedy go to waste so, without further ado and a week late, here's some thoughts centered around that great event.

Yes, that great "unsinkable" ship, the RMS Titanic, met it's tragic fate in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912 when it struck an iceberg and didn't live up to the claims of its designer and builders. It sank! I loved the answer given to a newspaper reporter by an elderly woman survivor of that day and I'll repeat it because of its significance to our lesson: "It was a monument to human arrogance."

After years of searching, and probably due to advances in technology, its watery grave was finally located and they've been able to determine a lot of the "why's and wherefore's" relating to its demise. I'm going to just condense the things I've read about this and say that, in the judgment of the experts, "substandard materials were used in the ship's construction."

In other words, when the time came that they were needed the most, they didn't hold up. They failed and their failure cost the lives of 1,523 people, including the life of the ship's designer. Only 705 people survived the sinking. Mathematically speaking, that's about a 2 to 1 ratio of perishers to survivors.

This brings me to the question - "Why were so few saved?" But, perhaps there's an even better question - "Why did so many of them perish?" Now we could debate this all day, but there is a simple answer to both questions: the "saved" are the ones who got into the lifeboats and those who perished did not. However, I think it important to our lesson to examine their reasoning for not entering the lifeboats.

Before I offer my opinion as to why they didn't, I'd like to first mention something else about the lifeboats that baffled me when I read this fact. They were not filled to capacity. Not even anywhere near to being filled. My answer to this thought will go to the point of our lesson today.

Okay, let's go back to why two-thirds of the passengers (those who perished) refused, or declined, to get into a lifeboat. My take is, they believed what the owners and builders told them - it's "unsinkable." In essence, what they did was put their faith and their trust in what others said and thus, saw no necessity to get into a lifeboat.

Think about it. They didn't have to die. They could have been saved. All they had to do was get into the lifeboat. But, they chose to believe the propaganda, the claims of some of their fellow men, staying on the "unsinkable" ship until it was too late and we now know from history, that their faith was terribly misplaced.

I think there is a great lesson we can derive by recalling this tragic event. The first thing I think of is that there is another event coming in everyone's lives and, depending upon the choice we make, will be either tragic or wonderful. This event is our death. Here's the most important aspect about that event as it pertains to our lesson today - all choices end. In other words, if we're not in the lifeboat when that occurs, we're going down with the ship.

The prophet Ezekiel provides us with a great passage that fits with our thoughts here and easily relates to our "parable" of either being in or out of the lifeboat. If you read verses 20-32 of Ezek. 18 you'll see what I'm referring to however, for brevity sake, I'll take the liberty of paraphrasing his words here.

In this passage, God is speaking to His "chosen people" Israel (Isa. 44:1), but keep in mind, Christians are now His "chosen people." (Eph. 1:4) Basically He tells Israel that each of us are responsible for our own situation. The situation of being either saved or lost. That we're not going to be saved by someone else's action, nor are we going to be lost because of the sins of others. That we are, each of us, free-moral-agents and as such, we are free to choose righteousness or unrighteousness. IE: to either get in the lifeboat or stay on a sinking ship.

Now there's an interesting "side lesson" seen in these verses in Ezekiel and that lesson is this: that a person who is "unrighteous" can turn to God, be obedient to Him, and become "righteous." But it also says that someone who is "righteous" can turn back into sin and become "unrighteous." Referring to our illustration today, they can jump out of the lifeboat and back onto the ship, if they so choose. Doesn't make much sense to do that, does it? But we know that this happens all too often, don't we? (PS: This also refutes the man-made doctrine of "once saved, always saved," doesn't it?)

Ezekiel provides us with a simple equation: the "righteous" will be saved because of their own "righteousness" and the "unrighteous" will perish because of their own "unrighteousness." Perishing or living depends entirely upon our own choices: staying on the ship or getting into the lifeboat.

Here's our closing thoughts for today. God doesn't want anyone to "go down with the ship." In Ezek. 18:32 He says, "For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies, says the Lord God. Therefore turn and live." He says the ship will go down, but we don't have to be on it. There is a lifeboat available to us.

In Romans 6:23 we read these words: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." In keeping with our lesson today, the "wages of sin" equals the Titanic. Jesus Christ is the "lifeboat."

Do you think it possible that it's "human arrogance" to believe that anything man-made is "unsinkable?" That anything man-made will last forever? We know that nothing of this earth equates to eternity and that goes for material things or "doctrines of men."

I'll make one last point from the words of Ezekiel (18:31) and I hope it makes you think about whether you'd have been one of the "2/3rds" staying on the ship, or one of the minority in the lifeboat. God asks this question: "For why will ye die?"

Ron Covey

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