Real and abiding unity springs ever and only from intelligent consent and honest conviction. It never comes through pressure, or repression of conviction. Unity is the collective result of minds convinced by conclusive evidence and satisfied by untrammeled investigation. It is thus the product of candid examination and discussion. The inevitable result of the evidence, coupled with the force of logic, will be such a united conclusion.
This necessitates the frank and unfettered study of the reasons for or against a proposition. It involves thinking things through with candor. Thus faulty positions are abandoned because of weight of evidence and force of logic, and preconceived opinions are adjusted in the light of incontrovertible fact. Meanwhile true and invulnerable positions become luminous with added certainty and strength, and are established for all time.
But these desirable results are not likely to be achieved in an atmosphere of challenge and defense. They are not apt to come when epithets like "stand patter" or "radical" are being hurled back and forth. In fact, the surest way to foster division and estrange men is to accuse them of unorthodoxy. Nothing so wounds and causes deep resentment as to tell a man who is conscientious and loyal—and withal is scholarly and open to expanding light —that he is disloyal and traitorous, because he is unwilling to blindly accept and repeat inconclusive evidence as satisfactory proof. Unity is imperative. Let us foster it by these assured processes.
It would foster laymen activities for advantageous records for the leader's church or district,—and indirectly for the auditing committee's benefit,—rather than for the enlistment of latent talents for the salvation of lost souls, and for the spiritual welfare of the participants.
It would urge tithe paying that the conference treasury might not lack,—with all that implies to the worker personally,—rather than as the loyal, voluntary, joyful, acknowledgment of stewardship to God.
It would impel untiring labor in evangelism, with fervent appeals for decision in order to gain or maintain a fine record of baptisms, rather than because of an inescapable burden for the lost.
It would preach chiefly on those doctrinal, historical, and travel subjects, that inform and interest, rather than concentrate on those vital truths that transform the soul, as such do not require an experimental fellowship with Christ on the part of the worker.
It would rely for results on human ingenuity, efficient plans, and sheer hard work, rather than on the divine dynamic of the Holy Spirit.
Such are some of the pitfalls of professionalism that have proved the undoing of many before us—and may for us, if we watch not our steps. 0 gospel worker, guard the heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life!
These we are bound before God to help and to save. But how can we minister to others, if we ourselves do not possess? How can we lead others into the victorious life, if we ourselves are not triumphant in our own lives? Few ministers are willing to play the hypocrite, or to present a mere theory, if it has not worked in their own experience. Hence they tend to gravitate into merely doctrinal or theoretical discourses.
The great practical need in our congregations, and in our daily contacts, constitutes a challenge to every worker in this cause. It is a call to seek God anew with all the heart for an experimental walk with Him—a radiant experience in Christ, that will enable us to help those all about us who are longing for guidance. This is one of the imperative needs of the hour. God help us to meet heaven's expectations, not perfunctorily nor professionally, but in the Spirit and in the power supplied.
L. E. F.