When Welles Crowther went to work that day, he didn’t know it would be his last. He was a Wall Street equities trader, but he was also a volunteer fireman. His training kicked in on on that fateful day in September when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower. He was a hero.
When I think of what he did to save countless people, I’m reminded of the words of Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, he said, “You are the light of the world.” He went on to explain that we shouldn’t hide our lights. Welles Crowther didn’t hide his light. He used his talent and training and passion to save lives. He let his light shine. We should, too. We might not save people from a burning building, but we can let our light shine by using our talents and skills to help people in whatever way we can. And, when we do, we can give the honor to God!
Welles selfless service gave life. Jesus also said, “You are the salt of the earth.” Then, he goes on to say that we should be “salty.” Salt is something that was used at that time to preserve food. It literally kept people alive. Welles wasn’t afraid to be “salty,” to be different. He used his training to lead people to safety. He didn’t just stand around and try to fit in. He was different. And, by being different, he saved lives. We are called to do that, too. We should be different, we should be special, and we should go ahead and be the salt of the earth that keeps the earth going by preserving life.
Welles went back in the towers multiple times. He kept going back in to the point that he was there when the towers fell. He gave the ultimate sacrifice. His own life. Now, Jesus calls us to do something more than just have a superficial commitment to being right. He calls us to deep, inner commitment. He says that we should be more righteous than the religious leaders of the day in the first century, the Pharisees. We should have the kind of righteousness that cuts to the core. Now, Jesus modeled that kind of living…by giving his life. Just, like Welles, Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice, and he calls us to go beyond list-checking religion to the point that we become self-sacrificing servants.
For some reason today, when I thought of Welles, his story reminded me of Jesus and his message in Matthew 5 in the Sermon on the Mount. A message about light, life, and deep self-sacrificing righteousness. And, if we become those things, then people will never forget. Just think…years later, we’re still talking about Welles.
2000 years later, and we’re still talking about another one who gave his life for us.