RECENTLY one of our institutions got in touch with a potential worker with a view to employment. In answering the inquiry the worker asked for details of the service, salary, and particularly what "would be the fringe benefits offered"!
One wonders what the Advent Movement is coming to when the call to service is weighed and considered on the basis of the fringe benefits that go with the job. Are we training workers who deeply appreciate the privilege of working for Christ or are we educating a class of professional personnel who care more for the money offered, the hours of actual work required, the expenses and fringe benefits provided, and the security that comes at the end of a leisurely, assured term of service?
Would it not create the right atmosphere for a genuine revival of gospel service if we could recapture the right spirit of laboring for Christ? What did He offer His disciples?
Our Lord called His men and sent them forth to preach. He did not promise them the security of substantial salaries and all the benefits that men regard as necessary adjuncts of a promising career.
'Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves; be wary as serpents, innocent as doves. And be on your guard, for men will hand you over to their courts, they will flog you in the synagogues, and you will be brought before governors and kings, for my sake, to testify before them and the heathen. . . .
'All will hate you for your allegiance to me; but the man who holds out to the end will be saved. . . .
'A pupil does not rank above his teacher, or a servant above his master. The pupil should be content to share his teacher's lot, the servant to share his master's. If the master has been called Beelzebub, how much more his household!' (Matt. 10:16-25, The New English Bible).*
In every age the Lord of the harvest has called His servants to self-sacrificing toil. Those who catch the spirit of Christ are more concerned about the prosperity of the cause of God than they are about self-improvement. They are called to serve, not to be served. We hear altogether too much in these days about how this or that call may enrich and develop the individual's experience and less about how the cause of God may be developed and His work finished.
When Winston Churchill assumed the leadership of Britain in its most crucial hour he invited the nation to follow him, and in one of his most inspiring speeches he said, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." The nation rallied to this stirring call and grimly fought until the ultimate victory crowned their efforts.
So the great leaders of God's cause have called on men to "suffer affliction with the people of God, [rather] than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt" (Heb. 11:25, 26).
When Paul received his call to apostle-ship he was not offered any fringe benefits, but the Lord informed Ananias, "He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake" (Acts 9:15, 16).
Are we failing our young people today by appealing to their self-interests and bribing them by benefits and bonuses instead of repeating the challenge of our Lord, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:37, 38)?
Such have been the Pauls, the Luthers, the Wesleys, the Whites—and countless others who have spurned the world's bright toys in order to grasp the eternal values. Such is Dr. Albert Schweitzer, turning his back on a brilliant career as musician, physician, and outstanding scholar, in order to devote his skill to the afflicted lepers at Lambarene. "What imprudent men the benefactors of the race have been. How prudently most men sink into nameless graves, while now and then a few forget themselves into immortality."
The god of this world "asks men to place their affections upon the good things of this world. If he succeeds in engaging the mind and affections, the heavenly attractions are eclipsed. All he wants of man is for him to fall under the deceitful power of his temptations, to love the world, to love rank and position, to love money, and to place his affections upon earthly treasures. If he secures this, he gains all that he asked of Christ."—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 480.
On the other hand, "Christ gave no stinted service. He did not measure His work by hours. His time, His heart, His soul and strength, were given to labor for the benefit of humanity. Through weary days He toiled, and through long nights He bent in prayer for grace and endurance that He might do a larger work. . . . To His workers He says, 'I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done.' "—The Ministry of Healing, p. 500. It was such as these who founded the Advent Movement. It will be such as these who will be used of God to finish His work and usher in the kingdom. To some Jesus will say, "Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things," while to others He will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant ... I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
* The New English Bible. © The Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 1961.