Of all the responsibilities laid upon man none can compare with the task given to the ministry. Upon them He has laid the compelling charge, "Go and preach." As well as a commission there is also a position of leadership that falls to the lot of any so called. One of the greatest dangers facing the servant of God is the ease with which he can become overly impressed with his own importance. The tendency to think he is better than others, or a hesitancy to perform certain tasks, or go places not so glamorous, is ever with him.
A glimpse of the work of Christ under trying circumstances will cause us to question of ourselves, "Who do we think we are"? Are we so holy or important or proud that we would refuse to do for our fellow man that which Christ would do for us and others?
No, I wouldn't accept a call to the Smallsville church. There are only two men in the church, and the entire membership totals only twenty-eight, with half of them not coming. Why is the conference punishing me by even suggesting such a thing?
Christ was as earnest in dealing with one soul as with five thousand. See Him talking to the woman at the well or to Nicodemus. See Him continue with determination when it seemed that even His disciples had forsaken Him. Christ never asked how many would be there before He went to speak. He never counted those in the audience before He gave His message of salvation. Who do we think we are if we are not willing to follow His example?
No, I couldn't go to the Mammothcity church, either. There is too much work and responsibility in the church there, and besides, I don't like big cities. The president should know better than to ask such a thing of me.
Christ never feared to face the problems of Jerusalem. There were souls to save there as much as in the fields, by the sea, in the small towns, and in the deserts. He went to preach wherever man was found, regarding not His own preference or likes but the needs of mankind. Who do we think we are, always trying to serve our own interests?
I understand that over in the Splitside church there are two factions that are always fighting each other. I won't ever go there; I don't want a fight on my hands.
In the company of the chosen disciples we see hot-tempered men from one extreme to the other. In Simon the Zealot there is represented the extreme right, the ridiculously conservative. He belonged to a group dedicated to the violent overthrow of the Roman government. He swore the death of any who supported Rome and especially those of his own nation. On the other hand, we have the extreme left, the liberals, the compromisers, represented in Levi Matthew, the despised tax collector, the dirty publican. Such men had sold their country and nation short by cheating it of its money and using it for themselves and for Rome. One man has sworn the death of another; one man has bargained to cheat the others; all men have ideas of their own. These are the ones Christ chose for His followers, the ones to carry on His work, for in them He sees men of God when changed by the Holy Spirit. Who do we think we are to overlook the power of the Holy Spirit to heal the breaches, to mend the splits, and bring forth a harvest from unpromising mankind?
I could never make a good foreign missionary. Conditions are so primitive over there in foreign lands. I couldn't ask my family to be born and reared in that environment, and besides, the people don't appreciate the missionary's sacrifice anyway.
Christ was not born in the best of sanitary hospitals. No, He was born in an unsanitary stable. He was taken to the foreign country of Egypt while yet a Babe and when He did return to His native land it was to the ill-reputed town of Nazareth. Though unappreciated in the country of Samaria, he journeyed there to find those few who would accept Him and His message of salvation. 0, the value of the human soul to Christ, even if it was of another nationality! Who do we think we are to make a decision to reject a call simply on the basis of environment, to reject any man because of color, language, location, nationality, or any other reason, when Christ's commission is to all?
Why Get Sick?
One task of the ministry about which we must be cautious is that of visiting the sick. We wouldn't want to catch cold or the flu or even something worse. I try to stay away from the sick; you can't be too careful.
Did Christ ever shrink back from the sick? When the lepers drew near and the crowds melted away in horror, He stood there and healed them. When the blind, diseased eyes of Bartimaeus caused all to shudder, Christ placed His healing hands upon them. When the dirty, raging maniac screamed down upon the little band by the sea, the disciples ran in terror, but Christ stood His ground fearlessly and cleansed the mind of the deranged man. Who do we think we are to doubt the healing and protecting hand of God today?
I would never want to work with the people of Backward County. They are so simple and backward that I couldn't possibly lower myself to their level. They just wouldn't understand, I am sure.
Christ called His people from the fishermen by the sea, from the farmers in the field, from the most humble. He was Himself a day laborer of the carpenters' and woodworkers' craft. He was able to reach men from all walks of life. There was no questioning a person to see if he was worthy; all people were worthy of the concern of the Master. Who do we think we are to be too proud to minister to all classes?
Snob Hill is one place where you might as well not try to do Ingathering, give out "Signs," or do any kind of missionary work. Those people are so snooty they won't even talk to you. You won't ever see me trying to do anything for them!
Christ studied with Nicodemus, He ate with Simon the Pharisee, He converted Joseph of Arimathaea, He tried but failed with the rich young ruler. Luke the physician was one of His converts. No man was too high or low on the scale of humanity for the Master. Every man was a soul to save. Who do we think we are to exclude anyone from the message of God because of his status? Is it because we are ashamed of our own uncouth and unrefined ways that we don't want these people in our churches?
I don't believe in big public efforts. For one thing, they cost too much money, and besides, they take so much time you don't have any time left for yourself and your family. Furthermore, if you stir the people up too much you might be criticized, ridiculed, and even persecuted. And even worse, no one in this area is really interested anyway.
Christ never counted the cost of saving a soul. He never shrank from the hours spent in preaching nor feared the ridicule or persecution heaped upon Him for our sake and the sake of others. When His brothers and mother urged Him to stop preaching, His answer was, "Who is my mother, and who is my brother or sister?" Then He indicated that all were His brothers and sisters; He loved all. When the disciples urged Him not to return to Judea to the home of Mary, Martha, and
Lazarus He heeded it not, for He had a work to do. He was resolute and steadfast in His determination to return to Jerusalem and finish the work, even though it would cost Him His life. Who do we think we are to shun hard work, long hours, ridicule, and persecution? Is it because we have never tasted the real joy of salvation and so we have nothing to share and give?
Good Works Never Save
When the Lord comes, surely He will have to accord me a special place in heaven for the work I have done for Him all these years.
If anyone ever earned heaven by his good works surely it would be me. Christ taught and lived the fact that the truly great are not those who think they are great but those who serve. Not those who shout their virtues but those who quietly live a virtuous life. Christ said,
"He that is greatest among you shall be your servant." "Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased." Christ stooped to do that which others would not do, ate with the lowly, healed the sick, and served mankind. He stooped so low that He, the Crea tor, allowed Himself to be killed by the creatures of His creation. He, the Law giver, was mocked as a sinner by lawless men. He, the Redeemer, was betrayed by His followers.
Who do we think we are, yes, who do we know we are? We are sinful, rebellious people, not worthy of heaven. We know we are not worthy of the grace offered to us by any virtue of ourselves; but by the virtue of Christ, our example, we can be worthy. We can preach in Smallsville, in Mammothcity, or in Splitside church with success if Christ be in us. We can work with the people in foreign lands, in Back ward County, on Snob Hill, when Christ works through us. We can visit the sick and pray for them, we can go into evangelism fearlessly when Christ goes before, with, and after us. We can say with Paul, "I have fought a good fight" when we say also with him, "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."