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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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An Unmoved Church

Somebody observed that the great task of the church today is not only to get sinners into heaven, but also to get saints out of bed. Say it ain't so, but a roll call in many congregations of the Lord's people just might reveal as many saints not in the assembly as saints who are. When it comes to even the most basic Christian duties like worship assemblies some saints just can't seem to get moving. Charles Schultz of comic strip cartoon "Peanuts" fame once observed, "Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have -gears we never use." Every congregation, thank God, has a core group of faithful servants. Like Isaiah of old, when the Lord calls, 'Who shall I send, and who will go for us?" they quickly respond, "Here am I! Send me!" (Isaiah 6:7). Even so, in far too many cases and places, individual Christians and congregations of God's people are, evangelistically speaking, stuck in a low gear or not moving at all. Meanwhile, teeming millions live without Christ as they speed along toward hell, unsought and untaught.

The church in the book of Acts burst forth on its birthday in Acts 2, and thereafter stayed on the move with the gospel. On the Day of Pentecost "those who gladly received his [the apostle Peter's] word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them" (Acts 2:41). Later after being beaten for preaching, "daily in the temple and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ" (Acts 5:42). After even more persecution, a scattered church "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). And they went without the modern means of high-speed travel and communication technologies we enjoy today. Acts tells about a church on the move. The church described on its pages faced pressures, persecution, and opposition from without and problems, obstacles, and even conflict within. The devil pulled out all the stops to stop the church in its tracks. But it didn't work. In Acts 17:6, opponents of the gospel at Thessalonica paid the apostle Paul and his co-preacher Silas an unintended compliment — "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too." The early church, moved by love for Christ and compassion for lost souls, moved out with the gospel. They left people mad, sad, or glad. The one thing they would not do was leave their hell-bound world alone!

Socrates said, "Let him who would move the world first move himself." Permit me to alter his words — "Let the church that would move the world first move herself." Unmoved Christians and churches need to dust off and read Matthew 9:36-38 until the words move us to get on our feet and out into our world with the gospel. When Jesus "saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.' The words of "Into Our Hands" urge the church to be moved — "Millions are groping without the gospel, Quickly they'll reach eternity's night; Shall we sit idly as they rush onward? Haste, let us hold up Christ the true light." Otis Keener's words won't let me alone — "Missionaries are not made by crossing the sea but by seeing the cross." Compassion for lost people is what moved Christ out of heaven to a Cross. Somebody you know is moving toward a Christ-less eternity. Will you move to change that?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ