By O. C. Birdwell
My father-in-law would often tell a story about a farmer he knew during the depression days. The man farmed with mules, and being very poor, had little to feed them. He would dump a bucket of anything available (often during the summer, a bucket of peaches) into the feed trough and say to the ole mule, “Now you just suit yourself, you can eat it or leave it alone, it makes no difference to me.”
Causes for the “Come and Get it” Attitude
Them are many causes for this prevalent attitude that we are here considering. We do not know them all, and would not have the space to list them if they were known. We do, however, want to list a few that we feel to be obvious in so many cases.
(1) With some there may be less than a firm and confident conviction. Many religious groups are no longer eager to evangelize. Some forthrightly affirm that “one is as good as another” and that none are essential to salvation. Many even doubt that there is a salvation to be offered. Mr. Billy Graham, a well known Baptist preacher, recently was quoted in McCall’s as saying that he no longer believes pagans and Jews are lost without Christ. He believes they can say “yes to God” and be saved by viewing nature, apart from Christ. If this is so, why take the gospel to anyone? This attitude may have invaded the hearts of some in congregations of Christ. I know that there are some, even several preachers, who presently refuse to condemn as wrong religious teaching and practice that is clearly outside New Testament authority,
(2) Materialism, and the involvement of most people in business, recreation, and entertainment is a definite cause. Both the teacher and the one needing to be taught are affected. It is much easier to stay home, watch television by a warm fire, and have a nice bedtime snack, than it is to make the effort to teach someone. This is especially so when it is apparent that the one we are trying to reach had much rather be doing that himself.
(3) Our nice, comfortable, and convenient meeting houses may cause the attitude. Some feel that most everything has to be done in the church building. Please do not miss the point that is being made. This does not mean that adequate meeting houses with classrooms and teaching facilities are wrong, or even that they are not desirable. They are tools to be used to an end, but they ought not be regarded as an end within themselves. How many churches have been known to die after moving into a new building? Especially is there a danger after they pay for the building. Let us remember that a building will not do our teaching for us. A building cannot “go” anywhere with the gospel.
(4) Lack of knowledge and zeal is also a cause. Although both are essential, often it is evident that there is knowledge with no zeal. Then, we may see zeal with little or no knowledge. This condition may cause people to say, “Let them come to the church building and hear the preacher.”This lack of knowledge and zeal is a direct result of some of the causes already mentioned. Materialism and love for the world brings loss of zeal and lack of knowledge. Often there is too little time allotted for Bible study, and no manifested spiritual appetite.
(5) The aggressive nature of some false teachers causes the attitude. Some may say, “I do not want to appear to be a `Jehovah’s Witness,’ or ‘Mormon.'” We should remember, however, that the zeal of some in these false religious groups is not their problem. We should not take issue with their zeal. It is often commendable. Their teaching is their basic problem. It is false. Their zeal, along with the truth, would be desirable and fruitful for Christ.
(6) When our aim and purpose is forgotten, this attitude is developed. When we forget that all men are in desperate need, and the gospel is the only answer to that need, we become indifferent and tend to do as did the Israelites. “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (1 Cor. 10:7). We need a higher goal than this. We need more ambition. Our ambition, however, will usually depend upon our aim and purpose. For this cause our aim should be of the highest caliber. The aim of the church should not be political. We should not want worldly power and dominance. Neither
is the purpose to be commercial. Material possession is of no value except as it can be used to support the preaching of the gospel. Saving souls, and keeping them saved, is placed above everything in the world. It is the work Jesus came to do. This attitude should so completely control us that there will be no vague concept of duty or danger of drifting from complete dedication to the cause of the gospel.
Overcoming the “Come and Get It” Attitude
In the concluding part of this article it seems fitting and even necessary that some attention be given to overcoming the undesirable attitude we have been discussing. Material, presented by other writers in this issue, on subjects such as Finding Contacts, Working the Contract, Activating Members, and others, will help us in doing our work of evangelism once we divest ourselves of the “Come and get it” attitude, and get to the point where we can sincerely say with Isaiah, “Here am I send me” (Isa. 6:8). We will never accomplish much until we make the switch. The teaching and examples of Jesus and his early disciples will help us make the change. He will strengthen us to be active, and aggressive, and not passive and indifferent in evangelism. “He ordained twelve. . .that he might send them forth to preach” (Mk. 3:14). “They went forth and preached everywhere” (Mk. 16:20). It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). They were sent forth; they went forth; they preached. Where did they preach? They preached everywhere! This pleased God.
Jesus, the master teacher, left us an example. He taught in the synagogue, on the mountain, by the sea of Galilee, at the well in Smaria, and anywhere else he could speak to one or more. “In the parables of Luke 15, Jesus did not speak of a lost flock, but of a lost sheep; not of a lost fortune, but of a lost coin; not of a lost race or nation, but of a lost boy. Jesus reserved his best for individuals!” (Roland Q. Leavell, Evangelism, p. 157). The apostles did the same. They preached in the temple and synagogue, in market places, in prisons, in homes, and even in the hall of the Roman Emperor. They preached to both receptive multitudes and resentful mobs. They shunned not to declare the whole council of God. They made opportunities and preached anywhere they had the opportunity. They said, “For necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:17).
Friend, let us put away this “come and get it” attitude. Let us “go,” throuh every scriptural means, with the pure and simple gospel, to the lost and erring and bring them unto the redemption and salvation that is in Christ. This is the charge of our Captain. We can do no less and obey him.
Truth Magazine XXII: 18, pp. 301-302
May 4, 1978