How sad it is to move into a quarters and discover that predecessors were so busy about their ‘ministry’ that they never found time to speak, let alone be a neighbour, to those next door. In the busyness of visiting and responding to the needs of the corps folk are there those of us who have failed to care for the spiritual well-being of that little congregation that God has entrusted to us within our own four walls? How concerned have we been for our children’s salvation, in helping them to discover the life-saving truths of God for themselves?
Satan is so subtle in his attacks; it is very gradually that he moves us from fulfilling the requirements of God to fulfilling the requirements of men, albeit godly men. It can happen for the individual as well as for an established organisation. In the name of ‘corban’ our man-made traditions and man-made rules, observances and precepts can become sacrosanct, so much so that preservation of the system can inadvertently become a motive for what we do. Our numbers decrease and so we emphasise evangelism in an effort to reverse the decline; money is short for all that we want to do, so we emphasise tithing; numbers offering for full-time service are insufficient we feel, so we endeavour to solve the problem by an added emphasis in this direction. Almost unnoticed there creeps up a concern for ourselves, our organisation, our image, as opposed to a grieving burden for those who are like lost sheep without a shepherd. Both individually and corporately we forget Christ’s warning in Matthew10:39.
When we look at Jesus’ life, we see him receiving labels and judgements for things he said and did which would fill us with self-concern should we ever be labelled so. Having received Mary and Martha’s cry for help when their brother was so ill, Jesus spent two further days by the River Jordan before responding. It may have appeared (as it does at first reading) that Jesus was insensitive to their cry, that he was little concerned for their plight; certainly Martha felt let down by him (John 11:21), though she wasn’t without hope even then. Others certainly must have felt that his delay was purely self-concern because of the danger of stoning that he had experienced in Judea immediately before going to the Jordan. His record of Sabbath-keeping was not a good one as far as the religious leaders were concerned and, added to this we have the company he kept, plus the accusations of gluttony, blasphemy and insanity, all of which one would expect in a sinner. And yet each thought and each motive was beneath his Father’s control. He was willing to lose everything, even credibility before the eyes of the leaders and the people, even to the point of a murderer’s death, to please God and save man.