"STONE walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage." This is true, but few cages are effective without iron bars. And is a prison a prison without stone walls?
Likewise—steeples, pulpits, and stained glass do not constitute a church. Nor, incidentally, does doctrinal accuracy. Important accessories? Yes! But not the vital element.
Is there a difference—fundamentally—between a house and home? Is it fatal to confuse shadow and substance? So we must penetrate the outer shell of organizational form and press to our bosoms the living Christ. It is Christ who makes a sermon—a sermon and a church. It is Christ who makes a preacher out of a Bible lecturer and a prophet out of a prognosticator. It is indeed Christ who makes a house a home. Of "stone walls" and "prison bars" may it be said—good, but not enough. May the day never come when to "build walls" and "secure bars" becomes our primary concern. To teach and follow Christ—seek ye first!
E. E. C.
WHO of our ministers is not sobered by the tragic picture of the shepherds of Ezekiel 34:1-6: "And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them."
This must never be repeated in the ministry of the Adventist Church. Shepherds today, if they are to meet the needs of their flock, should be living demonstrators of this challenging message from the pen of inspiration: "To be unkind, to denounce others, to give expression to harsh, severe judgments, to entertain evil thoughts, is not the result of that wisdom which is from above. . . All those who abide in Christ will manifest the kind, forgiving courtesy that characterized His life. Their works will be works of piety, equity, and purity. . . . Be so considerate, so tender, so compassionate, that the atmosphere surrounding you will be fragrant with Heaven's blessing."—That I May Know Him, p. 185.
What simple yet comprehensive counsel this is. Let us daily pray for God to give us grace and wisdom to follow it out. "If we would humble our hearts before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one."—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 189.
One hundred to one—what a challenge to every soul winner! The odds are too great to disregard. This is evidently a sure thing. Let us be willing to humble ourselves to the very dust if that is what it takes so that the love and tenderness of the Lord Jesus might be able to work effectively through us for the salvation of souls. "One hundred . . . where now there is only one." Think of it! Pray about it! Live it! What earnest soul winner wouldn't, if by so doing he might be able to increase his fruitage in such a miraculous way.
N. R. D.
ALONE in a crowd! I stood in the vestibule of the church awaiting the signal to march in. Thirty ministers were in the line, one of a different denomination. He had come to pay his last respects to a respected neighbor. (The neighbor also not of his faith.) But he was alone in a crowd. What invisible wall separated him from the others, rendering conversation difficult? Would not common concern as ministers for others and one another be a contact factor? Sensing that every passing minute made less likely easy and meaningful communication, I extended my hand with a smile and a word of welcome. His relief was evident, as with a ready smile he gripped my hand. Conversation? Easy! Through our common love for Christ and respect for a fallen comrade. Remember—you too may someday be alone in a crowd.
E. E. C.