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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Things we can do for God

Quite often in the Church we hear uttered the question "What can I do?" However, it's usually uttered in sort of a plaintive-like voice and not asked as in seeking something to do, but rather in a negative sense. As if to be saying "there's nothing (or not much anyway) that I can do." When said in that tone and in that sense, what the person is really saying is, "I have no talent or ability. I'm useless to the Church." Well, our lesson today is designed to, hopefully, dispel that sort of thinking. At least that's my goal and I'll do my best to accomplish it.

First off, if you're alive, breathing and reading this editorial, it's not true that you don't have any ability or talent. It's not true that there is absolutely nothing you can do. Everybody can do something, and yes, some are able to do more than others, but still, everyone can do something. To help make our point I'm going to use a couple of illustrations.

I really like to use illustrations to help teach lessons, I guess because that seems to be the method that helps me learn easier. Another reason I like using them is because that's the method Christ used, only He called them parables. But a parable is simply relating a spiritual lesson to something that is common to everyday life and thereby seeing the point.

Our first illustration is the Apostle Andrew. We've just wrapped up a study in our Wednesday evening class on the Apostles and of course, we talked a little about Andrew. But, we didn't talk a whole lot about him because there's not a whole lot known or said about him in the Gospels. But, I think we can look at the few things that are said and learn something about his character.

Andrew was not one of the more prominent Apostles. He did not seem to be possessed of any great and wonderful abilities. We really only know that he was a disciple of John the Baptist and the brother of Simon Peter, probably the most prominent of the Apostles. With his brother and some of the others, he was a fisherman by trade. But, he did have one ability that he used and that we can look at for our illustration.

He brought others to Jesus. He was one of the first followers of our Lord, and the first thing he did was to go and bring his brother Peter to Jesus. When he "found" the Messiah he went to tell others so they too could "find" Him. (John 1:41) We're not told how many people Andrew brought to Christ, but we do know that he was instrumental in doing so on two other occasions. He brought the "lad with the loaves" to Jesus (John 6:8-9) and then later, he along with Phillip, brought the "certain Greeks" to Jesus. (John 12:21-22) We're not told about any other talents or abilities possessed by Andrew, but we certainly know that he used the one he had - inviting and bringing others to Christ.

Our second illustration is a little story about a man named Rigsby. Rigsby lived in Scotland and was a traveling salesman. He didn't consider himself to be a person of any great talent or ability, but rather saw himself as just a faithful Christian. He liked it when his job took him to Edinburgh because he could attend worship services there and hear the great and famous preacher, Alexander White, speak.

Like traveling salesmen everywhere, he stayed in the local hotels while on the road and it was the same in Edinburgh. One of the things he always did was to invite the other guests at the hotel to go to church with him. On one occasion, while at Edinburgh, one of the guests went with him and was so moved by Bro. White's sermon that he responded to the invitation and was baptized. After that, the man could hardly stop talking to everyone about the effect the Gospel had on his life and how much it had changed him.

A few mornings later, he happened to be out for a walk and found himself in front of Alexander White's house. Rigsby wanted to tell Bro. White about how much of an effect his preaching had on his fellow traveler who had been converted, but Rigsby was actually pretty shy. None the less, he summoned up enough courage to knock on the front door and it was answered by the great preacher himself.

The preacher invited him inside and asked if there was something he could help him with. Rigsby introduced himself and said that he just wanted to let him know about how his preaching had changed his friend and how he was now telling everyone about Christ.

Bro. White looked at him for a moment and then said, "You're Rigsby!" He grabbed Rigsby's hand and while shaking it said, "I have wanted to meet you for a long time now. Wait here for a moment."

He ran over to a desk and removed a large stack of letters from it. He took them over to Rigsby and asked, "Do you know what these are?" When Rigsby answered, "No," Bro. White said, "These are letters from people you have brought to church to hear me preach." He told Rigsby that over 200 souls had been saved as a result of his bringing people to church with him and that four of them were now preachers themselves. He said that he had been receiving these letters for a long time and he had wanted very much to meet this person by the name of Rigsby who had such an effect on the lives of others.

Isn't that a great little story? Maybe Andrew and Rigsby were a lot alike. Neither were "great" in the sense that we think of greatness. They were simply men of faith and exercised the one ability that they did possess. They knew Christ and wanted everyone else to know Him too. They lived their faith.

The mission, or the ministry, of the Church is very simple - to "make known to the world the manifold wisdom of God" which "He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:10-11) In other words, the Church's job is to bring the Gospel of Christ to the world. The Church depends upon it's members using whatever ability they have to accomplish that mission.

Thus, I repeat what was said earlier - if we are still breathing and occupying space on this earth, we can do something. Maybe we can't preach or teach, or perhaps our physical condition prevents us from doing other things, as long as we're alive we can at least invite others to come hear about Jesus.

Ron Covey

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