|Vol. 13 No. 1 January 2011||
As an elementary age child, I recall the black and white version of The Wizard of Oz movie annually making its way to our television, and televisions across America. It was a remarkable movie for its day – a real classic. Several scenes doubtless imprinted impressionable minds every time the movie appeared during those years. One scene in particular stands out for me. Dorothy, her dog Toto, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow entered into the presence of “the great and powerful Oz.” Initially, the great booming voice, the fearsome face and the shooting fire commanded awe and inspired fear in all those who came before Oz. Of course, that was before Toto revealed the little old man behind the curtain speaking into a microphone. The point herein that I want to emphasize is the solemnity, the awe and the respect, howbeit, misplaced in the Wizard of Oz.
Until I was 18-years-old, I was at least nominally a Roman Catholic. Although I do not subscribe to the doctrinal errors that evolved over the centuries and continue to evolve away from biblical truth in Catholicism, other Catholics and I learned to have a keen awe and respect for God that led to heightened solemnity in worship of Almighty God. Assembled in the “sanctuary,” sensing that we were in the very presence of God, we worshipped with enhanced solemnity. Granted, the Bible does not teach about a sanctuary or holy place on earth under Christianity, and Catholic worship, because it is human rather than divine in origin, is vain worship (Mark 7:7). However, what I want to emphasize is the solemnity, the awe and the respect, howbeit, misplaced in Catholicism. One of the single most attractive aspects of Catholicism to Catholics, former Catholics and would-be Catholics is the solemnity in worship of Almighty God.
Somehow, Christians need to have a sense of the very presence of God as they worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). We need to manifest our awe of and respect for Him through solemnity in worship. As Christians, we need to feel emotionally and intellectually the sentiment expressed in Psalm 33:8, which reads: “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” The word “fear” in this context means “to revere,” whereas the word “awe” here means “to shrink, fear (as in a strange place)” (Biblesoft’s). Especially sinful men, even forgiven saints (Christians), upon reflection must acknowledge that being in the very presence of God as we endeavor to worship Him is ‘a strange place’ to be. “Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?” (Psalm 76:7). “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
Have we forgotten Who the object of our worship is? Has it escaped us that the Godhead is magnificent, all-powerful and so far superior to puny humans? How have we come to the point that in our assemblies we dare to be so easily distracted from focusing our complete attention on praising, magnifying and glorifying God? Is worship an inconsequential matter to you that interferes with your social networking and personal enjoyment? Do you show by your demeanor in the worship assembly realization that worshipping Almighty God is a serious matter and a privilege reserved today for faithful Christians? Christians, of all people, ought to be those who demonstrate solemnity in worship of God!
Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 2006.
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
To a divided, problematic congregation, Paul penned, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (1 Corinthians 14:20). Paul was not advocating that these brethren act childish, but rather become childlike – quite a difference indeed! To become childlike would cause these quarreling brethren (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:11) to put away their proud arrogance and then love and accept one another. Paul’s statement regarding childlikeness seems to be quite similar to the Savior’s (Matthew 18:1-4). Interesting is the fact that the answer to many congregational dilemmas can be found in the attitudes and actions of its youngest constituents (i.e., her children). Out of the mouths of babes (cf. Psalm 8:2; Matthew 21:15-16) often come encouraging, sobering words!
Regarding evangelism such is true as well. Nearly every congregation finds itself from time to time re-evaluating its evangelism efforts. Undoubtedly, the question arises, “What can we do to become more evangelistic”? “How can we win more souls”? While these questions are certainly sincere and seriously needed, often the answers are found in unlikely places. This author knows of a young man, who although is young in years, could teach most adults (myself included) some necessary helps concerning evangelism. Please allow me to share some “child-like” observations.
Firstly, this young man sees PROSPECTS. This author is often amazed at how seemingly everyone this young man meets is a prospect. However, is that not exactly what Jesus saw when He viewed the world in which He lived (cf. John 4:35; Matthew 9:37)? I wonder how often Christians fail to see each person they meet as a prospect. Everybody houses a soul that will be somewhere in eternity (John 5:28-29), thus everyone we meet is a prospect for Jesus Christ. Since this “treasure is in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7), it is our distinct privilege and responsibility to use every opportunity to share this “treasure” with everyone we meet. Everyone is a prospect! This is certainly one “child-like” observation this author has gleaned from a particular young man.
Secondly, this young man sees POTENTIAL. It seems as though no matter what background, spiritually or physically, a person may have, this author has seen this young man note other’s potential. Just recently, as this young man viewed a person ringing a bell to collect money for a particular denomination, he said, “We should find that guy something to do for the church of Christ.” I have to admit, I was not thinking along those lines as I approached the storefront. However, this young man’s words hit me and I thought, how true! Every person we meet has potential that could be and should be being used for the cause of Christ. Obviously, zeal is not all that is needed (cf. Romans 10:2-3), but it is certainly a good place to start (cf. Acts 8:26ff). Oh, the potential that Satan is stealing from the Lord! Everyone has potential that should be used for the Lord’s kingdom! This is certainly one “child-like” observation this author has gleaned from a particular young man.
Thirdly, this young man sees PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Almost weekly I have heard this particular young man say, “I am going to school tomorrow and tell my friends about the church of Christ.” On other occasions I have observed him in a doctor’s waiting room handing out spiritual literature to those with whom he was playing near by. I have found myself embarrassed before God Almighty because I have not always used such occasions to personally evangelize. When these situations occur, I cannot help but think of Andrew, who personally told his brother about the Messiah (cf. John 1:41), or Philip who personally told his friend (cf. John 1:45). I wonder how many sinners would be converted to Christ, if each adult were to apply this “child-like” mentality. However, sadly, we often feel it is someone else’s responsibility to evangelize or become involved. This “child-like” observation has certainly made me think seriously about those with whom I come into contact.
So then, “What can we do to become more evangelistic”? “How can we win more souls”? In emulating this particular young man, we each must see PROSPECTS, POTENTIAL and our own PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, and in doing so, I am certain that God will give increase (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:6)! So may I exhort you dear reader, IN EVANGELISM, BE YE LIKE CHILDREN.