Driving through my new neighbourhood I spotted a sign calling for blood donors. While I can’t currently give blood (UK citizens are barred in many countries due to possible exposure to BSE) I would certainly like to. The UK has a great culture of blood donation and I hear that the Red Cross here in Australia are keen for UK Citizens to be able to donate, once the question of testing for BSE has been sorted out.
There’s not doubt about it, blood saves lives. Many of us have family members who would be dead today if people hadn’t donated. It’s possibly one of the most wonderful things you can do for another person – blood is life and so it’s a great gift. I want to encourage as many of you as possible to consider doing it.
But I can’t give blood and save lives.
As much as I want to, I just can’t.
I knew all this as I drove along. I saw the sign, wondered if I might donate and realised that there was nothing I could do as things stood.
And it’s the same in my job as a pastor. I can’t give blood. The Christian deals in matters of spiritual life and death and the Christian pastor all the more so. The danger is, as we move in a world that is hurting and spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1) that we are deluded into thinking that we are the ones who can save lives. Or, equally damaging, others will think we can save lives. We just can’t - we’re incapable. The temptation is to want to, because we seek to love people, and so we might very well give of ourselves almost to the point of blood (or it might at least feel like it). But we can’t give blood, at least not blood that will save people.
But, of course, there is someone who can give blood and save a life. More than one life. Jesus is the great blood donor:
Col 1:19 For in [Jesus Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
It is Jesus’ blood that brings life and health and peace, not our own. The Christian and the Christian pastor should always remember. There already is one that gave blood and saved lives and we do better to point others to his saving work, not try and do it ourselves.