By Ed Harrell
We need not to “think of men above that which is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). And yet we take encouragement from others, we admire feats of great spiritual courage, we can be lifted up by the faith of others. There is, in short, a social aide to Christianity.
We seem bound and determined to speculate about what is the greatest in the kingdom, and yet our speculations are so superficial and absurd. I want to tell you about some Christians – common people – people you don’t know, people you will meet only at the Judgment Day. I cannot judge their destiny any more than we can judge that of the great and the powerful, but I know what they meant in my life. If telling their stories can partially correct the assumption that the great men in the kingdom of God are those in the public view, then we may learn to think of men as we ought.
My family and I (seven in all) recently attended a small congregation (nine that day) in Minnesota. They had invited. me to come and speak and we arrived a bit late because the Minnesota roads were in a condition which generally paralyzes Alabamians. At any rate, we worshiped and I spoke without the usual introductions and social amenities.
At the close of the service an older brother stood and said a few words. I did not know him before (though he is a man with a fine reputation in that region) and have not seen him since spending a pleasant afternoon with him, his wife, and his son’s family. But in a few moment’s time he deeply influenced me and my family.
He said something to this effect: “It is so wonderful to be able to worship with brothers and sisters in Christ. What a rare encouragement it is to meet with such a fine Christian family from the South.” As he spoke, tears began to flow down his cheeks, voice choked, and he apologetically paused to wipe his eyes. He continued haltingly to tell “how the gospel came to that part of Minnesota.” It was a touching story of the conversion of honest hearts in a lonely land. The service closed with an emotional prayer led by the younger brother.
It was a moving experience. I had a large lump in my throat. I shall not soon forget it. My children are not strangers to being lonely Christians. We have held services alone in our own home. But as we traveled home that evening we agreed that something special had happened in our lives because we had been allowed to worship with these saints. How grand beyond comparison it is to meet with those of like precious faith. What must heaven hold for us. What a privilege it is to worship together. We don’t feel guilty that we worship regularly with hundreds of other Christians; we rather feel blessed more than we could have ever known before. And, oh, how we remember our brother in his isolation and we wish we could somehow put our shoulders under his burden. He thought my simple sermon helped him, but truly he helped me. Let us now praise famous men.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 15, pp. 250-251
April 12, 1979