By David V. Hurst
Do you ever get to feeling that the “church” where you attend doesn’t really need you? Do you feel that your presence and efforts have no effect at all? Do you then ask yourself what difference does it make whether you attend? Immediately you know the “pat” answer. The preacher says “you are important and it is important that you use your talents well.” He says, “What you do or don’t do effects the entire congregation.” But isn’t this a little hard to swallow? Aren’t you a little skeptical when you hear this? Can you really believe that this is the straight forward honest truth? Let’s reason this out together.
Biblically, each saint is compared to a member of a single body (1 Cor. 12). Most of us can understand the illustration. Literally, no matter what aspect of one’s body is hurt or incapacitated, the whole body suffers. From a scratch or hangnail to a broken arm or leg, one will have pain, discomfort, and at the very least, temporary lack of productivity. Paul teaches that this is the way it is in the church. Why do we have trouble applying this?
I am reminded of an incident in my own family. It was late and the girls had all gotten ready for bed. Sure, they are supposed to be sweet, unrowdy girls but nothing would do them unless they got their dad into a squirt gun fight. So they were the good guys and Dad became the villain. Around the house and up and down the stairs water went, swishing, splatting, and finding its mark. Dad’s wife who normally would have been upset at the mess created seemed to watch in motherly pleasure. During the course of the battle one of the girls knocked Mom’s “candle sconce” on to the floor. It was made of iron and was not hurt. A few moments later, the worst happened. Our middle daughter stepped or the iron sconce and it cut deeply into her toe and foot. It took several stitches.
Who was to blame? It could have all been avoided if Dad had just stopped and told the girls to wait while we cleared the floor. If Mom had just taken the time to get up and pick it up while we went on playing it could have been avoided. If my daughter had picked it up when she knocked it off or if her older sister had been willing to take the time to do the same, it would have been avoided. A major trauma could have been avoided if one person had done what seemed to be an insignificant act – an act that would have no doubt gone unnoticed. Yes, the whole family was to blame. Still, some of us who were older should have seen the danger and the greater responsibility falls upon us. Further, Dad and Mom were in charge and we bear even greater responsibility. Yet, if any one of us had done our little part in being helpful, the whole incident would have been avoided.
In the spiritual realm, many things often go unattended because they are unnoticed or seem insignificant. No doubt, we would be shocked by the problems that arise simply because we feel our efforts are too unimportant to make a difference. As in the illustration above, the church also is a family. Similarly, some are older, some are wiser, and some may have responsibility over more than some of the others in the family. However, the welfare of any member of the family is often dependent upon “each and every” other member of the family. We are too quick to overlook the little things and assign them as being unimportant. We also assume we are unnoticed and therefore unimportant, but this does not follow to be true. Little things make up big things. To give someone a call, to visit an elderly Christian, to greet a visitor, to pick up someone and bring him to services and hundreds more things could be mentioned that have the potential of just being the encouraging thought to help keep another soul close to God. There are so many seemingly insignificant things that we all can do.
God is glorified through the preaching of the Gospel. How do we do that? Who is to do it? You say, “the church.” Who is that? Is it not the preacher? Yes, in part. But the teacher, the elder, as well as each and every Christian all have their part in this work. Each Christian’s part is as important as that of the next Christian. What happens when each person does not do what he can do? One is reminded of the old parable of the horse being lost for the want of a nail in his shoe. As Christians, why do we overlook the significance of our presence in an assembly? It has often been, that a struggling saint being in an assembly has been one of the greatest encouragements to continue fighting on for his fellows. When Christians get together and unite in effort (no matter how insignificant mine may seem) the only result will be in souls being saved to the glorifying of almighty God.
God spent so much upon the church in giving it life through the blood of his own Son that it behooves me to consider my thinking. Why did God do that? It is because I am created in his image. I am important to him. How can I not be in each assembly ready to give all I have whether great or small to help others in doing our best to glorify our Father?
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 14, p. 430
July 18, 1991