Bruce Larson tells this story in his book, “Faith for the Journey.”
Once there was a successful factory that made drills. One day the owner told his corporate officials that he was going to retire and that he had chosen his son as his successor. At the next board meeting the son asked his four vice presidents, “What are your goals for the company for the next five to ten years?”
One vice-president replied, “Well sir, we’re looking at new sizes and shapes for different drills.”
The son then dropped his bombshell. “I have news for you – there is no market for drills.” One could feel the tension in the air. He continued, “From now on we will not think drills. We will not sell drills. We’ll sell holes! People don’t want to buy a drill; they want to make a hole!”
As they began to think of other ways to create holes they developed, among other methods, lasers for hole drilling. This attitude change and other innovations keep this company in business while its competitors are losing large shares of the market and many are even going bankrupt.
We need that kind of attitude adjustment in our local churches.
Many of us think in terms of presenting the message of salvation so that people will not spend eternity in hell. But look at it from a different perspective: Scores of people I’ve talked with can’t even begin to imagine eternity in hell because they think they are living in hell now. Their question is, “how can it be any worse?”
They live in a personal hell of drug and/or alcohol addiction and abusive relationships. The hell of rampant sexual immorality; AIDs; terminal cancer and insurmountable stacks of debt. The hell of deep and dark depression; the betrayal of a spouse; the bottomless pit of bitterness and the hell of desolate loneliness. People all around us are being overwhelmed by hopelessness.
Each of our local churches offers the solution: Hope! Jesus came so people can have real life; now, today – and in eternity! They can have a life today that is better than anything they ever dreamed of! (John 10:10)
Will coming to Christ solve everyone’s problems? No. There will still be pain, cancer, unfaithful spouses, and unpaid bills. But Jesus says, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.” (Matthew 16:24 The Message)
Instead of being repulsed by these people we need to beg God to help us see them as He does: People that desperately need to be embraced in Jesus’ love and offered unconditional grace and forgiveness and hope!
We have the message: Jesus is the Son of the Living God. He has come to save us from the sinful ways of life that rob us of hope – to give us abundant life, overflowing life, life lived to the max.
He has given His Bride, the local church, an awesome task of being a lighthouse of hope in a world of dark desperation. And He empowers us to the task in Matthew 16:18 when He says, “I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out!” (The Message)
Portions of this article originally appeared in the March 2006 issue of the Christian Union Witness.