SWALLOWED BY AFFLUENCE!
A young Nigerian Christian was in Europe for study. After five years at close quarters with Western civilization he ceased to attend church. He said he was shocked at the Western craze for getting money. It seemed to him to be the one aim of Western life. A few months later he stopped to listen to a Christian action group, which was obviously deeply concerned about the suffering of Africans in a certain section of his homeland. He was then convinced that there are some people who have not surrendered to the allure of an affluent society.
An American university professor was interviewed by a brilliant young man whose career seems destined to bring great monetary reward. The young man and his wife are deeply concerned over the futility of an existence that is obsessed with acquiring money. These young people, and more like them, says the professor, want to know how they can use their abilities in something more noble and satisfying. Then he commented that in every such case the parents stand aghast that their young people should get such ideas!
Christians might well note the old lesson that they cannot preach that the love of money is the root of all evil and at the same time become absorbed in acquiring, whether in large or small amounts, the riches that choke the soul and belie the Christian profession. The love of God in Christ Jesus is unselfish and sacrificial.
H. W. L.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF A PREACHER?
G. Cupertino was so kind as to translate a statement that appeared in La Stampa, Turin, March 17, 1961. It refers to a Gallup poll regarding what the majority of the German Catholics expect from their priests:
"Speak in the language of today—clear, concise, free from poetry and sentimentality. Be exact when speaking of our work. Eliminate emphasis. Do not speak as though you were already perfect. It is easier for us to believe in a man who admits himself to be in search of something, one who suffers. Show your understanding of the daily difficulties of lay-Christian living in our world today."
Concerning the substance of the preaching, the investigation has revealed that this should consist of "the substantial bread of God's Word," and not merely a kind of "pastry." Clear opposition to language from the pulpit that is not objective and charitable has been manifested. "Don't speak about politics if not within the limits of your message." "Place the blame where it should be, without in-sulting. . . . From time to time let us feel that we are a part of a universal church. Do not frighten us, but give us courage; give us some consolation, some help, security, and hope; give us the joy of God and of His wonders."
This is food for thought for the Adventist preacher also. It might be well to take these wants of the people into consideration as we preach the last message of hope to a dying world.
When people criticize the aggressive self-assertion of the Jews, they may be told by educated Jews that the Gentiles who compelled the children of Abraham to live in ghettos are responsible for the situation. In certain geographical areas history would confirm the fact that wherever a people is despoiled, repressed, confined into economic stringency, they develop acquisitive, self-assertive instincts as a result of their enforced struggle for survival.
Can the Christian church become ghetto-minded? Can we shut ourselves up in a too-small world of our own creation? William H. Cohea, Jr., writing in the July-August, 1961, issue of Letter to Laos, makes this trenchant observation: "The local church in our time has been 'ghetto' and 'self-preservation' minded. It has shirked service outside its institutional confines. It has built multimillion-dollar buildings to be used once a week for education and worship, while, around the corner, people live in impossible housing seven days a week. It has provided hygienic buildings, programs and curriculum, but failed to take seriously its calling to be a community and to empty itself and serve in a sick world!"
The church can shut itself up in numerous ways. Undue concern over unimportant doctrinal and prophetic minutiae, pressing personal ideas on our fellows, self-concern to the exclusion of soul burden for the lost on every side of us, fussing over "sweet nothings," rigidity in legalistic orthodoxy, fighting among ourselves about minor matters—these and a hundred other things can shut us up to ourselves and away from the real field of battle. Every member of every church should today be evangelistically minded, deeply concerned over the problem of warning men and women to "prepare to meet thy God!"
Let us away with the ghetto mind, the self-preservation of supremely self-satisfied men, the personal ambitions that warp the thinking! Let us take the whole world into our praying, the whole community into our service for the Lord Jesus Christ!
H. W. L.