Scripture: I Corinthians 11:1
I once heard a preacher state three of the things that characterized Israel before Samuel were a demoralized priesthood, an alienated laity, and a silent God. Those three earmarks, could, in some measure, be applied to the generation in which we serve. In assessing the ministry today we seem to fall into two major categories. On one hand there is the group who, by their works say, "There is little use; who are we against so many? Anyway, isn't this what is meant by the last days? Evil doers and seducers shall wax worse and worse. Who are we to challenge God?"
The second group is like unto the first, but in addition the lure of this present evil world has corrupted their very moral fiber and they have little restraint against many immoral practices. While some may not engage in sexual immorality, yet other forms of sin such as cheating, lying, and stealing are a way of life, and they, by their actions, say to a disillusioned culture, this is the best we have to offer.
If our culture is to experience a spiritual awakening, it will only be affected thorough men. They are God's chosen method. True, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, but he effects it through men.
Before St. Paul could stand and say with authority, "Follow me as I follow Christ," he had to experience a definite conversion. The radical Saul was not the same as the ransomed Paul. Threatenings and slaughter was his breath before the trip to Damascus, but afterward, the disciples marvelled at Paul's defense of Christ and His resurrection power. Perhaps this is a basic heed of the ministry today. Paul's conversion led to a determined obedience to his Savior. Note 1 Corinthians 2:2; Acts 20:22-24. How often does counting the cost affect the decisions faced by the ministry today? If the product in our society is any clue, then the answer is: ALL TOO OFTEN.
Paul also worked hard at discipling. Without a doubt, we can say St. Paul's greatest gift to the New Testament Church is the collection of letters given to believers who needed discipling. Note how personally Paul became involved in this process, especially calling Timothy "my son." He went to great length to disarm animosity. The whole epistle of Philemon was written to resolve a master-slave dispute which had resulted in Onesimus running away. Our generation has been besieged with just the opposite influence, giving license to Onesimus to "kick out of the traces." Is it any wonder we hesitate to boldly proclaim with St. Paul, "Follow me as I follow Christ"?
Paul's declaration of the distinctive doctrine of justification by faith is known as the theme of his letter to the Romans. The straightforward approach used in chapter 6 would not have won him any popularity contests in modern day America, but here is the mute testimony of a martyred saint who cries, "Follow me as I follow Christ."
May I issue a clarion call to all who may read these lines. The absolute need today is for men - men who will hazard their lives, futures, and fortunes for the faith once delivered to the saints and will tremblingly, but resolutely say to a disillusioned laity, "Follow me as I follow Christ."