ANDRE HENRIOT President, East France Conference
The excellence of the pastoral ministry, and thus its usefulness, results from its salutary action.
The pastor is the bearer of that astonishing panacea that imparts sociability to the modern pagan, moral balance to the intellectual, and culture to the one who is still at the first rudimentary stage. The pastor is, every where and always, the representative of kindness, peace, justice, mercy, and not the representative of the sorrowful side of existence, as is sometimes wrongly believed. He is tirelessly bound to the mission of governing souls in order to awaken and strengthen in them thoughts that should dominate their life and guide them toward the future life. The pastor, shepherd of the believers, is charged with power for their spiritual needs. As we must eat and breathe every day, and not only on certain great occasions of life, so our spiritual being demands daily nourishment in order to be healthy. Inevitably, then, the pastor is the man of every day. Not only is he called to baptize, marry, and bury, although at those great moments of our fragile existence the pas tor's help is desired and even indispensable, but he is the one who must maintain, in those en trusted to him, faith in things invisible and eternal. His intervention is all the more imperative as worldly contingencies are constantly coming to lower in man the attachment to divine things and realities.
The minister of the gospel is above all an apostle; one who carries the good news of salvation. In order to spread this word of life, he cannot remain seated in a chair; on the contrary, he must literally carry it: preaching in public, entering into the homes, visiting isolated souls. It is therefore unfailingly necessary that he possess a certain measure of aggressiveness, all the more since his vocation calls him not to limit his activities to those who are won to his cause. Indeed, under the pressure of his Translated from French by Leona Glidden Running. sacred fire, he must communicate his conviction to others and confront unbelievers and skeptics. That aspect of his ministry lifts him to the rank of combatant of peace and requires him to carry his victories wherever the order of his great Captain sends or places him.
Duties of the Pastor
As a leader, the true pastor has for his duties to aid the weak to define and particularize their rule of morality and their line of conduct, and to recall, to those whose consciences are hardened by compromises, the directing principles of the gospel. Always he must lead his flock, adapting his teachings, his counsels, and his encouragements to the very diverse vicissitudes of the life of each one.
Sometimes he will need to have the courage to denounce disorders in private life and exercise with gentleness the necessary reproof. It is always delicate, even for the arbitrators, to mix into certain disputes; however, the duty of the healing of the soul implies also that difficult intervention which happily transforms the pastor into a messenger, even into a peacemaker. He who devotes himself to the pastoral vocation should be able to speak as a dispenser of consolation. In that respect his work is to devote himself untiringly to the service of wounded souls buffeted by adversity. His role as physician of the soul designs him to attenuate, calm, or appease the distresses and sorrows that constantly harass mankind. Always he must draw near to human misery; he must encourage the despairing, the sick, the widows, the poor, those afflicted by physical or moral illness, and all others who are in need of compassion. He is called to help in hours of misfortune and dis tress. The true spiritual leader must be capable of following, with the same zeal and the same perseverance, the multitude of his activities through all crises. In the unleashing of persecutions, he remains the model of the faithful.
When war paralyzes and tears apart the country, he is there as ambassador of the Prince of Peace. If an epidemic sows terror and anguish, he becomes automatically the good Samaritan who spends himself without reckoning. Raillery and mocking do not at all injure his constancy, for such a ministry requires a steadfast heroism.
This preacher of love, of peace, and of justice makes an impression more by the eloquence of his example than by that of his speech. He will avoid the danger of seeking to please by a spirit of compromise. He will never give way before the menace of the half measure or the play of flattery. It is part of his duty to conserve his naturalness, while maintaining the ideal of justice with much charity. With him, fidelity must always triumph over facility. And as a faithful representative of his religion, he will be, by his example, his abnegation, his benevolence, the main pillar of the spiritual sanctuary that he seeks to edify upon earth. His is truly a "high calling." Help for Weak Members W. E. STRICKLAND President, Kentucky-Tennessee Conference IT IS no small thing to belong to the Seventhday Adventist Church. Not only does it require courage to take such a step, but it takes stamina and faith to hold on and win through. New converts, flushed with the joy of newfound truths, are bright targets for the devil, and he seldom fails to improve every oppor tunity offered to beset and discourage them.
For them to carry on and remain faithful to what they know to be right is many times a supertask. They do not doubt the truth. They know that all we teach is the inspired Word of God, but many of them fail. Some time ago I visited a large church and spoke to the church officers. I pointed out to them that they had more than six hundred members, and then said, "I suppose that in this number there are those who are what we call dead timber backsliders, those who don't come to church and who have lost interest, those who, perhaps, you think should be disfellowshiped. How many of these would you say there were?"
One brother said two hundred, and almost all agreed that there were without doubt one hundred. One hundred members ready for disfellowshiping! This story can be repeated in nearly every church, large or small, more or less. Some who are listed as members are not members in reality. Why? There are many reasons, perhaps, but regardless of the reason the church has a responsibility. The church is not a social society, a club, or a lodge. It is established as a church for one purpose only, and that is to save souls. That is the commission and should be the objective. Jesus said that He came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; to seek and save the lost. His whole life was dedicated to others. He made no selfish moves. He taught no selfish theories. His was and is the way of life, the way of freedom from sin, the way back to God. Justice and mercy, kindness and under standing, with an abundance of love, motivated His words and acts, and sinners found salvation. It costs money to bring people into the church. We found that in 1951 it cost our conference $1,070 for every baptism. That means that members are valuable assets, and that from the dollars-and-cents angle alone we should labor to retain our fruitage. It is so easy to lose sight of our objective, to forget that soulsaving is our business, to think that per capita goals are our trouble, and that church standards are of supreme importance. Let us not get the cart before the horse. Our business is to save souls, and that means inside and outside the church. Kill the tree, and the leaves will fall off.
Christ Came Not to Condemn
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who soever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." We know this wonderful verse. We love it. We believe it. But how many of us ever consider John 3:17? "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." He came not to condemn. Reading the book of John we find Him saying, "Do not think that I will accuse you." "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." He was not an accuser, a judge, or one who condemns, and in 1 John 2:6 we read, "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." We, then, must not accuse or judge or condemn. The devil is the one who accuses, judges, condemns. We must uphold the church standards, but we must do it the Jesus way, without accusation or judging or condemning. Let me illustrate. Here is a man who from childhood has used tobacco. He is permeated with it. Many times his wife finds his clothes stained brown from perspiration.
Every fibre of his body is affected by his years of usage. His body demands nicotine. As a grown man, or perhaps when he is well along in years, he hears the Advent message. He listens night after night as Elder Blank in a clear Biblical way presents God's truth. He is convinced. All his life he has wondered over certain Bible texts, and now he understands. He sees what he must do. He is told many startling things. Tobacco, liquor, unclean meats all must go; and with a determined heart he gives up all for Christ. He is honest. He thinks Adventists are a wonderful people, and they are! He joins the church. His baptism is a great event in his life, for he is leaving his old customs, his old haunts, his old friends, to join God's church and people. Here the devil steps in with greater force. His weak points become the focal point of attack. His confidence, his former habits, all come under increased pressure. What is the result? We blame no one. We are all so busy. And after all, salvation is an individual business, or so it seems. And so our brother wrestles. Tobacco, his greatest weakness, is used by the enemy to throw him, and one day we find him smoking. He hides it from us, but we saw, we know; and what do we do? Well, more than likely we'll tell what we think about an Adventist's using tobacco. "We knew that's what would happen. We knew that Elder Blank was in too great a hurry to baptize him. We said so then, and now see what we have to do" and so on. The man is down. He already is ashamed of his weakness. He hates himself, and what he needs is mercy and love. He needs help. He needs no accusation.
He doesn't need to be told anything about church standards. He needs someone with an understanding heart to strengthen his hands, to lift him up, to point him to the only One who is able to save just such as he. Here is where the wounded heart needs binding up not with harsh corrections, but with a love that sympathizes and forgets self and has only one aim to save. Let me show you what I mean with a personal observation.
Love of the Brethren Made the Difference
Some years ago a certain minister I know became pastor of one of our churches just as one of our evangelists was closing a great series of meetings in which more than 150 were added to the churches in that city. It fell to his lot to have the care of about one hundred of these new members. They were fine people new, fresh, of all ages. Jewels! Among this number were a husband and wife who came from an other church. He, a furniture house salesman, took his stand gladly. His acceptance of the message was wholehearted and satisfying. He and his wife nearly always sat in about the same place in church every Sabbath. One Sabbath as the pastor took his place on the rostrum he noticed that she was there, but her husband was missing. After the service, shaking hands at the door as she went out he asked, "Where's your hubby?" "Oh, Elder," she said, "he's working! I wish you would come to see him." "Working! That's too bad. I'll certainly come to see him," he said. Sunday afternoon the minister drove around to their house. It sat on a bank back up from the street, and as he stepped out of the car and closed the door he looked up. The husband was on the porch and saw him. He started into the house, turned around, looked at him, started back, and then around again to welcome him. It was summer. He asked whether the pastor wanted to sit on the porch or go inside.
He chose the porch. The brother's wife came out and all sat down. They talked about common things for a while, but the minister could see that the brother was uneasy just waiting, it seemed, for condemnation to strike. When the opportune moment came the pastor said, "We missed you yesterday." "Yes," he said, "I couldn't make it." "What happened?" he asked. "I had to work. The ox got into the ditch," he replied. "I'm sorry," the minister said. "You know, brother, we miss you when you don't come to church. We love you, and you know, I think God misses you too." "Thank you, Elder," was all he could, say. They talked on a bit more, and then the pastor took his departure. Sunday night the brother was at church, and the next Sabbath and several Sabbaths went by. Then the pastor noticed one Sabbath that he was missing again.
As his wife went out he asked, "Where's your hubby?" "Oh, he's working again," she replied in a provoked way; and he could tell that it was hard for her to take. What should he do? Sunday night the brother was at church. After the service, as he went out, the pastor shook hands with him saying, "I missed you yesterday." "Yes," he answered, "I couldn't make it." And without pausing he went on down the steps to the little yard in front of the church. As soon as he could the pastor walked down to where he was standing inside the iron fence, put his arm around him, and asked, "What happened?" "Oh, I had to work. The ox got into the ditch again," he said. "So! You know something?" the pastor said. "No, what?" he asked. "I'd either fill up that ditch or I'd get rid of the ox!" That amused him, and he stood there chuck ling to himself. Then drawing him close the pastor said, "Remember we miss you, and we love you and want you with us all the way into the kingdom." Now there was, and still is, in that church a brother and his wife who saw what was hap pening to these new believers, and who made it a point to be friends of theirs, to love them, to encourage them, to be "buddies" in a sense, and to watch over them. They sat together in church, went to socials together, were usually found at public and private gatherings together. And such love always works. They were an inspiration and help. Weeks went by, and then one day the furniture store manager said to our brother, "You'll have to work Saturday. So-and-so is sick, and so-and-so is off on vacation, so you'll have to come in." "I can't," was the reply. "Listen," said the manager, "you are going to have to choose between your job and your religion, one or the other. We need you here on Saturdays, and if you can't come, then we'll have to get someone who can. Think it over and let me know." "I don't have to think it over," was the reply.
"Then you'll work Saturday?" "No! I must be obedient to God. I can't work on His Sabbath." "You mean to tell me you'd lose your job rather than work Saturdays?" "Yes sir, that's the way it is." "Well, I'm giving you a week's notice," said the manager. "I don't need a week's notice," was the reply. "I'll stop now." It was lunchtime. Our brother walked across the street, met the manager of another and larger furniturebuiness, and asked him whether he needed a salesman. He was told that he did. He secured the position at an increased salary, with his Sabbaths off. Now the question is, Where did he get all that courage? Some months before he worked when told to do so. Why not this time? It was the love of the brethren that made the difference. In his hour of renewed trial he leaned upon the love of God and his brethren, and won. Later this brother, a fine salesman, gave up his furniture-selling job, became a successful colporteur, and today is an assistant publishing department secretary in one of our conferences. He told me a few months ago that he will never forget the way the brethren loved him when he needed it.
The members of all our churches need just such love, and perhaps if we would love as our Master did, we would have fewer losses. Should we not remember that it is only the grace of God that keeps us from backsliding? We have nothing to boast of. Only Jesus can give the strength to stand firm against temptation. We don't have any inherent powers that save us. It is said of John Wesley that coming down a street in one of England's cities he saw a crowd gathered, and walking up close and looking over the shoulders of those in front he saw a drunken man lying in the gutter. He stood there watching until someone looked up and recognized the great evangelist. "Why, Mr. Wesley, is this poor fellow a relative of yours?" he asked, for he noticed tears running down John Wesley's face. "No," he was told. "Then why are you so exercised over him?" "I was just thinking that that would be John Wesley but for the grace of God." And so it is, my friends. His grace upholds us. We poor, weak creatures of the flesh have nought to boast of; nought but defeat and sin, and except for God's power we would be no better than others who have failed and are failing. Oh, for more understanding, more consideration, more overflowing tenderness and love, to help our brethren and sisters who wrestle with the power of darkness and fail! Oh, that God would help us as we tithe our mint and anise and cummin not to forget judgment, mercy, and faith!
Right Attitude Toward Standards
There are those among us who fall because they do not understand. Some babes of the fold fail because they cannot see the "why" of things required. Standards set up by individual leaders often cause difficulties, especially among the young. The temptations of the youth are problems often beyond the tolerance of leaders who are not so afflicted. For instance, some few weeks ago there came into my office one of our young ministers, a fine man, purposeful, energetic, and full of
the desire to win souls. As I looked at him I saw that he had grown what I choose to call a toothbrush mustache. I said to him, "Where did you get it?" He understood what I meant. "Down in Florida on vacation," was his reply. "What for?" was my next question. He looked down at the floor and then back at me and answered, "For looks, I guess." Smiling I then said, "Be careful, then, how you deal with the little and big girls who use lipstick. What's the difference between a mustache grown for looks and lipstick used for looks?"
Of course people do things for looks! Not to be following the world in particular, but because they think it improves their appearance makes them prettier, or younger, or some thing. I can remember when men wore beards long beards, short beards, sideburns, mustaches. Preachers, lawyers, doctors, blacksmiths, masons every man big and little, important or unimportant, wore a beard if he could. Then someone started cutting them off. The safety razor was invented, and today, a half generation this side of beards, they are odd, strange, a fad. Why? Well, there you are, face to face with a style, a custom. We men today think nothing of a clean-shaven face. In fact, it is required required in spite of the fact that at one time in the world's history it was a disgrace to have one's beard cut off, and in spite of the evident fact that God intended for man to wear a beard; for if He had not so intended, would He not have made man's face like woman's? Now we preachers bow to custom, to style, to the modern way. Why? Because when it comes to salvation it doesn't make any difference.
There was a time when men wore lace collars, white stockings, shoes with large buckles, and three-cornered hats. Why? Style! There was a time when even the preachers didn't wear neck ties. Why? Style! Style, then, is important, and since all of us are affected by it more or less, would we not be wise in not making style a matter of salvation? But rather "let your moderation be known unto all men." Be mod est; be slow to condemn. From the feminine side, long hair, bobbed hair, curled hair, straight hair, face powder, corsets, hooped skirts, long skirts, short skirts, medium-length skirts; short sleeves, long sleeves, no sleeves; so on and so forth all are matters of style, but modesty and moderation should govern the action of the child of God, remembering that we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom. To condemn another's action is not our business.
To judge is not Christian. And to accuse is of the devil. Our Business Then what is our business? Our business is to follow Jesus, to live the Jesus way. He evidently was too busy loving and helping people to spend any time lining them up on what they wore and what they ate, and I find no record anywhere of His so doing. We do find a wonderful story in John 8, the story of the woman taken in adultery. She was brought to Jesus by the preachers of that day. "Master," they said, "this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law [the church standards] commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?"
The record says He said nothing at first, but stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger. But they pressed the question; so then He rose up and said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Then He stooped down again and continued to write. We don't know what He wrote. That is immaterial. The fact is that these men were "convicted by their own conscience" and left, and no one threw any stones of condemnation. The record says that "when Jesus had lifted up him self, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." Wonderful Jesus! He didn't come into the world to condemn anyone; no, not even a woman taken in adultery. She wasn't a prostitute. She was some mother's child, perhaps misled by some married man, taken in the very act of adultery. Strange case, wasn't it? And yet even though the charge was unquestioned or undenied, and without doubt true, the King of glory, our Lord, our Saviour, said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." Oh, that we could be like Him today! His only concern was to save. And our business is His business, the same business He had when He was here. Shall we not all remember His "he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone"? And shall we not endeavor by the grace of God to lift up the fallen, succor the weak, sustain those that are bowed down, and bring hope to the discouraged? Since ours is the Master's business, shall we not go about it in the Master's way? Our brethren and sisters are sorely tempted, and many times tried almost beyond endurance.
Shall we not encourage them, and if they fall, shall we not understand, and not accuse or condemn, but rather endeavor by love and mercy to bring help and victory? Too many are driven away by our harshness, our maintaining of the standard. Standards are good—we greatly need them—but there is more for us to do than maintain standards. Our real business is to save souls. Let us do this without accusing, judging, and condemning. Be honest with ourselves and our fellowmen. Jesus' method is the Christian way; He helped buffeted souls because He loved them. A non-Adventist said to me some years ago, "Elder, you Adventists are a very strange people." "What do you mean?" I asked. "Well," she replied, "you will move heaven and earth to make a convert. You will love them, pray for them, hold studies in their home, take them to meeting, do anything to get them into the church; and after they are in you treat them like the devil!" I was startled, and then I began thinking. Is that so? Are we really that way? Do we treat our members that way? No! I can't agree to that altogether. We are a wonderful people. Around the world we love one another, we uphold one another; and yet there could be some truth in what she said. May God help us as ministers and as lay members in the church always to use the Jesus method; to love as He loved; to live unselfishly, ever conscious that we today are here not only to seek and save the lost but to bring back the straying and understand and help the tempted, backsliding brother or sister.