If we are in earnest about finding the cause of depression within the church, we must look elsewhere than in reports of lowered tithe, lessened foreign mission offerings, or receding home missions finance, for there is a shortage that does not appear in the surveys of our activities. The lack from which the work of God suffers is a lack of spirituality, true devotion, and sacrificial service.
And there is another shortage that is also vitally affecting the advancement of God's cause, and that is the shortage of leadership. Whatever is retarding the program of the finishing of the work is first of all to be found in our lives as ministers. This was true of the past, back in the days of Israel. We read: "The leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed." Isa. 9:16. Every one of us as ministers is a "leader of the people." And in so far as we ourselves are not spiritually fit, we are unable to lead the people into that relationship with the Lord where they will be best fitted to meet the present crisis. The remedy involves nothing less than the infilling of the Spirit, the latter rain.
In the face of an ever-increasing tide of apostasy among old and young, a continual decrease of financial reserves, a rising flood of denominational and local church perplexities,—but matched with mounting and glorious opportunities all about us in every land for sweeping on with the message if means could be provided, —it surely behooves us as ambassadors of Christ to do something other than huddle defensively about human inventions, schemes, and remedies. The call is clear for us to seek and find access to the hidden resources of power, which can be ours only through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
When we as "leaders of the people" lead the way to a more abundant life in Christ, a service sacrificial to the point of suffering, an in-filling of the Holy Spirit which cannot be denied nor depreciated, and a love for one another that establishes confidence instead of suspicion, a flood tide of new life and energy will surge through our churches everywhere. Does not the condition of the world about us, with its gang-ruled cities, its liquor-soaked men, women, and youth, its national and international orgy of dishonesty, evasion, and revolt toward all authority and power, in which even the most respectable tend to share, call loudly and demand a quick and speedily finished work?
Are we, by our leadership showing an adequate appreciation of the lateness of the hour, or of the seriousness of the world situation as it points to omens which soon will mean fast-closing doors on every hand? Are we making it clear to the people that we understand the need of communion, not merely of contact; of suffering sacrifice, not merely of professionalism; and of Spirit-possessed lives, not merely of self-professed lives? If we are not, then how can we expect our people to measure up to the calls and needs of the present crisis hour to which the church has arrived?
"Now God be thanked who matched us with this hour," sang Rupert Brooks. To be matched with the present hour we must be true "leaders of the people." And to do this we must believe in the future as can no others. We must believe in the impossible, and know that it waits the help of our hands to become the inevitable. With such daring conviction and faith, with glad hearts and eager hands, let us stretch forth to seize this matchless hour ere it pass. In doing so, we have need to find ourselves, to be ourselves, and to give ourselves. Truly to do this, we must find God. And to find God is to give ourselves to God unreservedly. Nothing less is sufficient; nothing more is possible. This is the supreme call of the hour.