Physician? When one is critically ill, he desires the most skilled physician available—highly trained, well-equipped, experienced, familiar with the latest scientific findings through periodic postgraduate work and the reading of the best and latest medical journals and books. Well-intentioned blunderers or experimenters, careless "back numbers," are unsatisfactory. Yet such deal only with the body. What shall be said of the physician to the soul? Is a less intensive preparatory training consistent with the responsibility involved? Is subsequent study and constant reading less necessary? To ask is to have the answer. Let us be admonished by the comparison. The skillful touch of the surgeon's hand should be surpassed by the delicacy of the ministerial touch. His knowledge of the Word—its promises, its warnings, its prophecies and their fulfillment, problems of sin, provisions of salvation—should exceed the technical knowledge of the physician.
Motives!—The matter of motives is paramount, for the motive either sanctifies the gift or the service, or it curses it. To struggle to achieve merely for the sake of achieving; to toil simply to equal or surpass a previous record or simply to reach a higher goal—and especially to surpass another in rivalrous competition—is of the earth, earthy. It is the method of a carnal, competitive world, and is utterly foreign to the spirit of the gospel. It should be loathed and shunned by the gospel worker. "For the love of Christ constraineth us" is the only true and righteous motive in Christian service. Let us pray constantly for this, and frown as constantly upon all inglorious substitutes.
Hypocrisy!—To publicly proclaim the principles of health reform, while personally indulging appetite in contravention of the most elemental principles of that reform we publicize in our health journals and institutions, and for which we are known to the world; to avowedly accept and follow the Spirit of prophecy, using it insistently where it enforces matters in which there is personal agreement, but avoiding, hedging, and explaining away when its clear counsels cross one's pet ideas or practices; to proclaim belief in the very imminent coming of Christ, while one's deeds, thundering out above all profession, disclose the fact that it is not the determining factor in one's personal plans and expectations; to urge upon others real sacrifice for the finishing of the work, while living on in comfort and ease, oblivious of the fact that a sacrifice decreases instead of increases, and that others follow our actions rather than our exhortations, —these are the things that nullify the influence of some, that cause apathy and revulsion on the part of many, and that stanch the flow of funds. And who can calculate the blighting, disintegrating effect of hypocrisy upon one's own soul? Let us put the accursed thing out of the camp.
Research!—The true function of historic research is not to destroy the foundations of belief, but to buttress sound belief by discriminating between what is hearsay and misconception, and what is indisputably historic and demonstrated fact, founded on reliable evidence, and making that indisputable evidence available.
Vital!—Diversified gifts have been bestowed by an all-wise Father upon the ministry of His church. Some are executives, with ability to organize, mold, and direct. Others are evangelists, with the gift of addressing the hurly-burly world, gaining its attention, and persuading the honest in heart to accept unpopular truth. Others are pastors, qualified to shepherd, lead, and develop the flock. Some are writers, adept at popularizing in book, periodical, or newspaper form the old-new story of the everlasting gospel in its last-day setting. Have we adequate provision for, and recognition of, the scholar equipped by training and experience to delve into specialized fields of knowledge essential to the very life and wellbeing of this movement,—into church history, Biblical archeology, prophetic interpretation, sound science, etc.?
Scaffolding!—Our business is to call and prepare a people to meet God; not to build up a great church on earth to survive the years. It is to fit a people for translation day; not to develop an elaborate and efficient ecclesiastical organization. Such may be needful and proper as a means to that great end, but not as an end in itself. Our business is not to build up an imposing system of educational, medical, and publishing institutions, except as they shall minister to that one supreme objective. These constitute the scaffolding for that mighty structure—the living church—that is to exist forever. When the structure itself is erected, the scaffolding is taken away, and the building stands forth in its enduring beauty. Let us ponder these salient principles, keeping them ever before us as a guide against unjustifiable effort and emphasis upon the scaffolding that is temporary and passing, instead of the up-building of souls to inhabit eternity. And let us make definite and practical application of these incontrovertible principles, and not merely give them assent.
L. E. F.