We are trying to make the gospel acceptable to man as he is. The church becomes an Old Adam Improvement Society. Here is a prospective church member in a Sunday morning congregation. He is a man of the world, takes a social drink, swears, and, if tempted, is shaky morally. He wants to join the church. It helps business, will look good on his obituary, and is a status symbol. He may have a church letter. People are going to hell on church letters. Do we ask him whether he has ever been converted? He might be offended. If we challenged him to deny self, take up his cross, and follow Jesus, he might take off to some other church where he can be a member and live in any old way. Such a church would not be hard to find, Our Lord lost some of His best prospects. The rich young ruler would be received gladly today, with no questions asked and no sacrifice required. The status quo would not be disturbed. It might help some prospects today if their status were “un-quoted.”
As in every other field, there are some misfits in the ministry. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). A wolf is doubly dangerous wearing a sheepskin and a preacher who makes a living in the church whose faith he denies is the worst of hypocrites. At least Bob Ingersoll stayed out of the pulpit! Then there are Davids in Saul’s armor, loaded down with paraphernalia from a conventional arsenal when God meant for them to use sling and stone. There are servants upon horses and princes on foot (Ecclesiastes 10:7). Preachers who can’t preach sometimes occupy chief seats in the synagogue while truly great preachers often minister in Podunk. We shall be surprised both ways at the judgment and will need to revise Who’s Who in the Ministry. If it were a matter of merit, some now on horseback would be hitchhiking. But whether one’s travel be equestrian or pedestrian, his one responsibility is to be faithful. If time fails to recognize the truly great, eternity will reveal them.