Summary: Many people are asking in this season, "What is God up to?" We seem to be living in a period of great silence. Believers are searching in vain for something God is doing powerfully in the body of Christ and trying to no avail to hear marching orders from
Opening illustration: "On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a little crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Many lives were saved by this wonderful lifesaving station so it became famous.
Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and their money and their effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new lifesaving crews were trained and the little lifesaving station grew.
"Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots and beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely because they used it as sort of a club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in the club’s decorations and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club held its initiations.
"About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the hired crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half drowned people. They were dirty and sick and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was considerably messed up so the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before coming inside. At the next meeting there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out they were still called a lifesaving station, but they were finally voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast a little ways, which they did.
"As the years went by the new station experienced the same changes that occurred in the old one. It evolved into a club and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself and if you visit that coast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters but most of the people drown."
What a simple and striking illustration of the history of the church. But the work of lifesaving and the work of evangelism is nonetheless the purist and the truest and the noblest and the most essential work the church will ever do. The work of evangelism, the work of fishing men, as it were, out of the sea of sin, the work of rescuing people from the breakers of hell is the greatest work the church will ever do. It is God’s great concern.