This morning’s title is taken from an old hymn that speaks volumes to our modern generation.
Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of Kings.
By William Pierson Merrill
So much of what we do today is trivial and insignificant in comparison to the greater works that need to be done in every community in America as well as the World.
On one occasion Jesus (with his disciples) was crossing Sea of Galilee in a boat. He gave way to His tiredness or the lethargy of the moment and was sleeping while the disciples tended ship. There suddenly came up one of the storms for which the Sea of Galilee is notorious with the high waves spilling over into the ship. All hands turned to to bail out the ship. Someone, evidently thinking that Jesus ought to share the same feverish work that they were doing, yelled at Him to wake up and help with the bailing. Jesus replied by stopping the storm and in doing so, saying in so many words: “I’m not a boat bailer, I’m a storm stopper!”
Too much of the time we are working zealously trying to keep the boat afloat by bailing it out when we should be addressing the storms. When God makes available to us concepts, principles, and practices that will dynamically change our homes, churches, and communities, how foolish of us to piddle with lesser things that will have little to do with changing the population of eternity and the configuration of the hearts of the people that surround us!
Of course it requires faith to assault Hell’s gates and to proclaim our victory in the face of the gathering darkness. Too much of our energy is devoted to survival when we have the promises of the God of all creation, of our salvation, and the Lord over all the earth that if we would busy ourselves with His business, He would take care of ours.
All of us must be aware of the shrouds of darkness that are gathering over our nations and communities. How insidious is their insinuation into the affairs of our lives and of those for whom we care, instigating their evil values and practices into the minds of the tender and the gullible while we to whom much is given sit heedlessly by.
My friend, Jim Hylton, Senior Pastor of Metro Church in Edmond, OK made a missionary visit to India several years ago. While there he preached in one of the larger churches of the region. While waiting for the pastor, after the conclusion of the service, he was invited to sit in on a church council meeting. He was quite amazed at the fervor and intensity of their discussion and wondered what great strategies they were debating for reaching the teeming millions of that dark region. When the discussion was translated to him, he discovered that they were debating whether to use light or dark tea at their annual dinner!
All too often, our churches are splurging their efforts and resources on a better means of boat bailing and using their collective wit to determine whether the evangelistic appeal of white or dark tea is more powerful
I’m sure that we quite often feel that we have done all we can and lapse into a kind of “inevitability attitude.” Or we spend our energies and resources improving or enlarging our facilities and internal structures thinking that through that we can more powerfully reach and disciple the unreached. People are not reached by means of bigger and better buildings and more proficient and efficient committees. Communities and homes are not salvaged and established by catering to the whims of a world-weary society.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that better facilities and internal structures are not necessary. What I am saying is that they are not the answer.
What is the answer? It always lies with the brokenness and submission of both clergy and congregations–the pulpit and the pew. Although the Holy Spirit is like a wind that blows whithersoever He wills, there are certain attitudes and practices of men that encourage His visitation. Purging of known sin, forgiveness of each other and others, brokenness over the tepid condition of our congregations and the lost condition of the many in our communities, and unconditional/unreserved submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ are fundamental essentials.
While the unsaved about us are on an accelerated slide into Hell and Hell is making unprecedented inroads into our homes and communities, boat bailing is not the solution. Prayer and fasting will help us to prepare our hearts and prepare the way for the moving of the Holy Spirit. God help us to be done with lesser things–beginning today!