By George Welsh Tyler
The relative ineffectiveness of so much of our church life is due to the lackadaisical way in which we go about it. It lacks breathlessness and the sense of the great events impending. If Christians were as certain that everlasting punishment awaits those who do not accept the Christ and that everlasting life awaits those who serve Him loyally, we would see a different sort of Christian living these days. Christians would not only endure discomfort more patiently, they would invite it. Through three years of intense suffering I never hear my beloved wife express a word of impatience — she reads her Bible every day and often mentioned her trust in God. I write these few words to encourage Christians to prayerfully bear their infirmities like patient Job. True Christians would put up with unpleasant people.
Certainly it is high time that we get our church work where we can enlist the larger part of the so-called “nominal Christians”‘ in the kind of effort that goes beyond mere inclination. The Bible speaks of only two kinds of Christians faithful and unfaithful. There is no such things as “nominal Christians.” We need Christians who, though inconvenienced, serve in the church work. We need Christians who not only will be at worship or do personal work “if they have time,” but will, first of all, make time for such service, who will designate a good share of their time for the service of the Lord and provide for that first and cancel all other engagements if they interfere with the work that is to be done for the Lord.\
Another phase of the matter is the relationship with people. There seems to be a general disposition to participate in the church work only if one likes the people in the congregation; or to associate oneself only with the people in the congregation whom they find compatible. Christian people need to have a sense of responsibility for all and especially for the ones who may not have the culture and social abilities that command a natural attraction and affection. They ought to seek out those who are incompatible.
Above all, we Christian workers need a sense of personal responsibility. We need an end to the disposition to cast responsibility entirely upon the preacher and the Bible school teachers. We need to recognize ourselves as vital members of the body of Christ. Every individual Christian needs to be made to feel the importance of his presence at the Lord’s Table and in the church activity, without having to be coaxed along by the preacher or the elders. Certainly we must to away with the thought that we should go into the Bible class or especially into a church worship only to be entertained by the teacher or bask in his delivery. That is about the most contemptible development of recent years. I have known of congregations having the communion service after the opening song so that those who did not like him or his style of sermon delivery would not have to sit through his “uninteresting sermon.” In other instances “so as to get home in time to watch the ball game on the TV.” They had to have recreation of some kind because we had to work hard all week and of course the Lord does not object to our taking a few hours off.”
Among all the idiomatic expressions of our language, there is none that surpasses in depth of meaning the expression, “put ourselves out.” Whatever may have been its origin, it has the distinctly Christian concept underlying it and comes very close to the teaching of the Lord with reference to denying oneself and bearing his cross. Jesus said, “He that doth not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:38). To “put himself out” is to suppress one’s natural inclinations, one’s selfish disposition, and to do a thing from a sense of responsibility and duty, even if it is distasteful and unpleasant. We consider the act entirely upon its merits and go through putting our own inclinations and tastes out of the question.
Christian work will never go ahead unless the Christians do “put themselves out.” They need to rise to the dignity of the work, make time for it and shove to one side attractive things, social activities and even business. They need to suppress their own personal feelings, to put themselves out in the fellowship with people whom they are not naturally inclined to fellowship. Until Christians do this they will never be able to make anybody believe that they are very serious about their message.
We who are eager to make the world give attention to the plea for Christian unity upon the New Testament basis only and to long for the return to old-fashioned evangelism of the first century are especially under obligation to rise above our own inclinations, sacrifice time and social relationships to prove that we have an intensity within us that matches our profession of zeal for the cause of Christ. We cannot win the battle unless we are willing to make some sacrifices and “put ourselves out.” Few Christians are ever as wide awake as they should be. Paul wrote for such to: “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee” (Eph. 5:14).
Truth Magazine XXII: 4, p. 76
January 26, 1978