Vol.XIV No.VIII Pg.3
October 1977

Concern For The Church

Dan S. Shipley

It is most disheartening to see your church building in the aftermath of a fire.' The charred wood, the broken glass, the smoke-blackened walls and ceiling--and that sickening, lingering, burnt smell that saturates almost everything — all of it makes for a dismal scene and a depressed spirit.

But, when concerned brethren go to work, the scene soon improves and so do our spirits. Not only because they make things look better, but because of the mutual encouragement that is felt with such association in worthwhile efforts. How refreshing to see so many hearts and hands (not to mention pocketbooks) dedicated to the work of rebuilding! It makes me wonder if our loss may not turn out to be our gain. At least there are good things to come from it.

All of this has reminded me of something that has been demonstrated time and time again; namely, the willingness of brethren to respond with such help in the time of misfortune. Some, even to the point of sacrifice. I look forward to the day when brethren everywhere will respond to spiritual needs in similar fashion. We must, for instance, come to see the condition of the church as being of far greater importance than that of the church building. We must see that a church beset with luke-warmness is far worse than a church building devastated by fire — and that one precious soul imperiled by sin is more tragic than the smoldering ashes of a dozen church- buildings! Not, of course, that it is wrong to be concerned for the appearance and condition of our meeting places (in fact, it is disgraceful the way some are allowed to run down!). As Jesus says, "these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone" (Matt. 23:23). The weightier matters involving eternal and precious souls must never be subordinated to the temporal. If we can work together in restoring the lesser, why not the greater?

Like the Laodiceans, we may need our eyes anointed with the eye-salve that helps us to see our true spiritual condition (Rev. 3:18). 'Though not so apparent as something like a fire-razed building, discerning eyes can see the damaging effects of such things as worldliness, indifference, liberalism nod internal strife. Fire never put the Lord's church out of business but these will! Concerned and faithful brethren who will see know that even now the church is being seriously crippled by such foes. Mao cares? Who will sound the alarm? Who will help in this, the most important and urgent work on earth?

Who? Well, frankly, not enough! Some will not see, for "their eyes they have closed" (Matt. 13:15). Some see, but just don't care — at least, not enough to involve themselves. Mostly, they just go along to get along - like the Laodiceans would. But, thanks be to God, there are yet a faithful few who see, and care, and respond to help make the church what it ought to be. 'These courageous few encourage a few more to help by taking a stand for God's truth, and the work continues. They know that we have profited nothing when the church lies in shambles -- in a fine, new church building. Do you?