An Army nurse was infamous in medical circles because of her tendency to wander away from the medical camp onto the battlefield itself. Occasionally, she would personally drag in a soldier who was in dire need of medical attention. More than once, she was reprimanded because she brought in not only American soldiers but also enemy soldiers. One day, an officer discovered her on the battlefield and asked her what she was doing there. Her answer was a classic statement of purpose. She said: "I'm looking for the wounded, sir. That's my job."
Oh, that we in the church of Jesus Christ had such a clear understanding of our purpose! If you have gotten the idea that Christians have often turned the church into a special club it may not just be your imagination. In fact, any group called into being for a purpose, needs to continually assess its pressent progress in light of its mission statement. It is so easy to become "something else." Our mission statement has three unifying ideas. Simply put they are: 1. Win people to Christ, 2. Help them grow up spiritually, and 3. Train them to minister to others. That doesn't mean we don't do other things also. But all those "other things" had better be related to numbers 1, 2 and 3 or we should change our mission statement.
I am not only concerned about the church as a body understanding its purpose, but each person within the body as well. The Lord hasn't called each of us just t0 be a better parent, or mate, or employee (as important as that is). He also put His Spirit within us so that we become interested in the eternal welfare of others as well. Jesus spoke often about our purpose and even established the priorities for us: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40). A child of God who has begun the blessed task of learning to love the Lord with all his heart, soul and mind usually proceeds to learn to love his neighbor as himself. In other words, he can't help but stray out onto the battlefield looking for the wounded. That's his job. Bring some wounded with you to church this Sunday and let us help you love them into the Kingdom.
Robert J. Thomas was sent by the London Mission Society as a missionary to the Korean people in 1866. His wife died soon after their arrival in Shanghai, China. Having evangelized only a few months in Korea after learning the language, he was one day approaching the location of the present day capital of North Korea on the American ship General Sherman. Hostile soldiers then boarded the ship waving swords. When Thomas saw that he was going to be killed, he held out the Korean Bible to them saying, "Jesus, Jesus." He was immediately beheaded. Many would be tempted to say at that point that his years of preparation were wasted and his few months of ministry ineffectual. But they do not understand how God works.
Twenty five years after Thomas' death, someone discovered a little guest house in the area with some interesting wallpaper. The owner explained that he had used the pages of a strange book to paste on the walls to preserve the writing. Not only the owner but many of the guests would come in and stay to "read the walls." This was the Bible that Thomas had given to his murderers. Even though today that area is ruled by Communists, it has been confirmed tht over 100 families are secretly worshipping Christ. Only now, the Bible is no longer pasted on the walls but hidden inside their hearts.
We do not seem to understand that the only thing God makes us responsible for is faithfulness. He is responsible for success. Day after day He gives us brief opportunities to share His love and compassion. He doesn't require that the situation be ideal nor that our witness be well thought out or "properly performed." In fact, while we may wait for big opportunities to do our part, little opportunities slip through our fingers on a regular basis. All about us people are so tired of the lies and con games being practiced by everyone they meet. They long for something authentic and people who are genuine and sincere. What an opportunity for God's people to share the light He has set burning within us. Remember Paul's words: "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (I Corinthians 15:58).
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship