I was reminded of that scene, many years ago, in which David Livingstone, back from Africa, was given the degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Glasgow. In response to the honor conferred upon him Livingstone, bronzed by the equatorial sun and gaunt from many a bout with fever, announced his intention to return to the Africa he loved: “I return with misgiving and with great gladness. For would you like me to tell you what supported me through all the years of exile among people whose language I could not understand, and whose attitude towards me was always uncertain and often hostile? It was this: Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world! On these words I staked everything, and they never failed!”
In 1983 a fifty-year-old tradition was quietly dropped by the U.S. House of Representatives. The tradition involved the annual reading of George Washingtons farewell address on the occasion of his birthday. Democratic and Republican leaders decided it was useless to continue to read the lengthy address to a mostly empty chamber. “Its too bad,” said GOP aide, “but its time for this to be consigned to the dustbin.”
Stated “The Calgary Herald”: “In past years, it was almost holy writ that the address must be read. Through war and storm for half a century, a member of each chamber has been chosen to read the address.” Declared the newspaper heading, “Nobody listens to Washingtons farewell address.”
We are afraid that something parallel to this is taking place in the Christian church. Fewer and fewer believers are listening to Christs farewell message. To His disciples Christ gave clear instructions - to go to all nations with the Gospel and there to make disciples.
When Hudson Taylor was director of the China Inland Mission, he often interviewed candidates for the mission field. On one occasion, he met with a group of applicants to determine their motivations for service. “And why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?” he asked one. “I want to go because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” was the reply. Another said, “I want to go because millions are perishing without Christ.”
Others gave different answers. Then Hudson Taylor said, “All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testings, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing; namely, the love of Christ.”
A missionary in Africa was once asked if he really liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. “Do I like this work?” he said. “No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonable refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse. But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to Go, and we go. Love constrains us.”
Paul W. Powell, in The Complete Disciple, described this condition: “Many churches today remind me of a laboring crew trying to gather in a harvest while they sit in the toolshed. They go to the toolshed every Sunday and they study bigger and better methods of agriculture, sharpen their hoes, grease their tractors, and then get up and go home. Then they come back that night, study bigger and better methods of agriculture, sharpen their hoes, grease their tractors, and go home again. They come back Wednesday night, and again study bigger and better methods of agriculture, sharpen their hoes, grease their tractors, and get up and go home. They do this week in and week out, year in and year out, and nobody ever goes out into the fields to gather in the harvest.
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. - Oscar Wilde
A recent study showed that there are three things you cant teach to people: lifestyle, morals, and attitudes.
As professor of vocal physiology at Boston University, Alexander Graham Bell had many deaf students. One of them was a young woman named Mabel Hubbard, who later became his wife. The Bells lived happily together for 45 years. In 1922, as Bell lay dying after a long illness, Mabel whispered to him, “Dont leave me.”
Unable to speak, Bell traced with his fingers the sign for no. With this last silent message, the inventor of the telephone took his final leave of his beloved wife.
Despite the efforts of evangelists, parachurch ministries and local churches, the percentage of American adults who are born again Christians is no different now than in 1982, according to a study by the Barna Research Group. The study found that 34% of all Americans can be identified as born againthat is, they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, and say they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior. Among those surveyed, 62% said they had made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their lives today. However, among those who have made a commitment to Christ, only 55 percent believe they will go to heaven because of accepting Christ as their personal savior (the basic belief in the “born again” movement). Most of those surveyed said they would go to heaven because of living a good life, or obeying the 10 commandments, or because all people will go to heaven. Others who said they had made a commitment to Christ said they were unsure about what will happen to them after they die.