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Home The Light Articles from 2011 The Future or the Church

The Future or the Church

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A Plea to Our Young

 

You may have heard the account of the old black preacher from the hills of Alabama. Seems as if the dear old brother was doing his best to keep a faithful congregation going in his area, and he and his wife were also trying to support two or three orphan children in their home. There was also a businessman in the town (a brother in the church) that the old preacher had come to depend on for financial help for his preaching and for the children. After a time though, the businessman got tired of him coming by so often with his requests. Exasperated, he told the old preacher one day, "You're just making too many demands on my time and my pocketbook with helping you preach and taking care of those kids you took in." He complained, " I haven't minded to help some along, but I'm tired of you coming by so much. I'm just tired of it, do you hear? I'm not giving any more!"

 

 

 

It sort of startled the old brother, and hurt his feelings. As he sat there for a few moments in silence, the businessman watched him, troubled that he had rejected the brother's request for help so harshly. He thought of many years he had known the good man, and the friendship they had shared in the church. As the businessman waited for the preacher's response, reflecting on how much his work helped the church in the little town, he began to feel more and more regret that he had so carelessly spoken.

The old preacher just sat there, fumbling with his hat in an embar­rassed sort of way. Finally he looked up and said slowly, "Brother, I think I understand exactly how you feel. I once had a little boy and he was always making claims on my time and my pocketbook. It was a nickel here and a dime there and a quarter some place else. Seemed like there never was any let-up. I was everlastingly being called upon for candy or pea­nuts, or a pair of shoes, a hat, a suit of clothes, and things like that. And just when I thought I had him all fixed up, I had to do it all over again.

"He'd claim my time, too. Why, in the evening when I was all tired and worn out from work in the mines, he'd climb up in my lap and I'd have to read to him or tell him stories and things like that. But, suh, he don't take up my time anymore, and I don't have to spend any more money on him. Not any." Then he paused and swallowed hard and said, "Suh, my little boy died when he was 'bout seven."

Then directly he resumed, "Brother, when that little church where this black man preaches is dead, and when they have nailed up the doors and boarded up the win­dows, and when the little orphans me and the wife takes care of are turned out in the street-suh, there'll be no more demands made on your time or your pocketbook. But as long as we are here trying to do the Lord's will; as long as that little white house sits up there on the hill with its doors open to the helpless little black folks of Alabama, they will not only make demands on your time and your pocketbook, but they'll most likely be even greater as the years go by. I suppose its good that you go ahead and quit now."

The old brother got up and stood for a few moments, blankly staring out the window, and then slowly turned and walked out the door and down the steps into the afternoon sunshine with a few more dollars of his brother's money in his pocket.

The Application

That little narrative shows me just how important it is for people in the body of Christ, serving the Lord and striving our very best to do the things we can do, not to give up in our ser­vice to God. The things we are serv­ing God with, whether it be our time, our monies, the talents, He has bles­sed us with. He is expecting this of us. He wants us to use these things.

I want you to think about this story and see how it may fit with some of the things there are for us to do. I think it will help us to know the importance of our Lord's church; to help us realize how great it is-the glory of this wonderful institution.

Our Young

I especially want to appeal to our young people. You make up the fu­ture of the church. You have to do the things that you can do and realize your place - realize your responsibility. If the Lord's church is to survive in your area it will be because you have done that very thing. And if you don't do it, the church won't be here. That's just how plain it is.

You young people reading this can make a choice as to how you are going to serve God. You are wonder­fully wealthy, aren't you? Well, you might not think so, but you are. In fact, most of you are very wealthy. You may not have much money, but you are extremely wealthy and you have so many things that can be used. You have your talents, you have your health, you have life before you, you have the things God has blessed you with-your strength, your soundness of mind. You can learn and under­stand things. He's given you all these things and you have them in an abun­dance, and they are your wealth in causing the church to survive.

The church is struggling. It's in a world of sin and indifference. We desperately need you young people to realize your place and take your place in the church and help. Do you understand the position you are in? Do you understand how important it is that you listen, that you understand these things and that you apply them to your life?

We who are older realize that we don't have much more to give. We know that. Our bodies are growing weaker day by day. Our minds are going to grow dimmer and dimmer. We know that. Does it trouble you that we continuously beg you, that we seek your help, that we talk to you and reason with you about the responsibility which is yours? Do you get tired of it and say, "I've come as far as I'm going to, I'm just going to quit!"? Boys and girls are doing that you know... they're turning away from the Lord and we real­ize that. So many of them have left the faith.

The Church Can Die

Think with me now, my dear young friends, would you like to have the church where you attend cease to exist? Can you imagine such a thought? Can you understand that this is something that can actually happen, that this place of worship (now I'm not talking about the building, I'm talking about a place designated to the worship of God where people gather together to wor­ship him)-do you realize that it can cease to be? Do you understand that the doors can be nailed shut, the win­dows be boarded up like the old preacher talked about? Well, I want you to know, if you don't accept your responsibilities, if you don't do that which is yours to accomplish, it can happen. It will happen! That's how serious it is.

Why, the place where goodly Christians go to worship, where they sing our beautiful songs and hymns in praise and adoration; where God's Word is taught in its purity, and good brethren have stood before you and tried to help you to the salvation of your souls.. .They have tried to bring you to a place where you can follow and serve God in a rightful way, the very place where brethren have talked to God in prayer, and He has heard their pleas, their prayers and their thanksgiving. The very place where people have solemnly gathered around the table to remember the death of our blessed Lord. Where they give of that which God had prospered them. How horrible a day when this house of worship stands dark, dismal; when it's forsaken by those who have decided they love this present world more than they love God. "Ah," you say, "It cannot happen. It cannot be." My friends, I tell you, It CAN be! And it may be.

Listen, I have traveled a lot of places, and I see congregations that are just dying out. I have preached where there weren't but 4 or 5 mem­bers. Two of these congregations have died, and another one is sickly. What do you think of that? You look back to where the apostles preached. You think of the various places where they did such great works in spreading God's Word. If you would go to the very same areas today, you wouldn't find a faithful congregation there. What happened? They died out, just like I'm talking about. Don't tell me it can't happen.

Only a Few to Carry On

Well, do you understand that this world has millions of people in it who don't even believe in God? They are far more abundant than what there are who do believe in Him. Do you understand that there are teeming millions who claim to believe in God and don't believe in Christ as His Son? Do you under­stand that in this so called "Chris­tian" nation of ours that the atheists are becoming so prominent in our schools, our universities, our col­leges, that they have just about taken over?

Well, friends, I'll go with you a little farther than that. You think about these millions of people that are opposed to our God, to serving Him, then you stop and think about the ways of professed Christians. What about this situation you see here-those who are trying to serve two  masters in this life-isn't  that what a lot of them are doing, trying to hold the hand of God and the hand of this world? It won't work! How many of those do we have?

Then you think about those who are lacking in zeal, who are lacking in convictions, who just don't have anything that is strong at all in their Christian living, just drifting along. When you boil it down, there's just a precious few left. Don't tell me it can't end. I don't mean completely, but I mean in places, in our own local congregations, the church can die. I thank God for the promise that the devil will not prevail, but that doesn't mean that your congregation will always be there. It certainly doesn't. The songs of praise that waft their way up from the meeting houses, the truths that are taught from God's Word from our pulpits, the gathering together to commune as we do-it can end my friends!

A Final Plea to Our Young

The answer to this lies in what? It lies in our young people. There's what it all boils down to-in our young people and our future genera­tions that are coming on. I'm plead­ing for you young people. I'm beg­ging with all my might that you will take your place and keep the church strong. Oh, how important that is. You young people are the ones that we will have to look to. Will you tire of giving as did the businessman in our story? Will you decide that this world has the best deal for you, and let the world pull you away? Well, if so, the place of worship that you appreciate so much now will be gone. If that happens, it will be gone.

You young people must carry a load. You have to pay the price. You have to determine, "I'll keep on paying," like the old black brother said. You must bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and then beg them, even as I am begging you, to continue in the faith. Serve God and keep your local congregation strong. Don't fail God in this. Don't fail your God!  

 

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