If There Is A Tomorrow …
There are all types of cynical people in this world: alarmists, pessimists, fear-mongers, etc. All one needs to do is listen to the daily news to prove the existence of such minds, many of whom have been elevated to positions of power and control. Contrariwise, there are souls of righteousness: faithful, believers in God’s promise of Hebrews 13:5 – 6, minds that understand the necessities of providing for their own (1 Timothy 5:8) while adhering to the laying up of treasure in heaven (Matthew 6: 19 – 21). The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that while Solomon was privileged to enjoy the fruits of his labors on this earth, all of those blessings were vanity when the soul is focused on God and His promised eternity to the righteous. (See Ecclesiastes 12: 13 – 14)
We must recognize that looking into the future requires the preface, “If the Lord wills.” (James 4:15) Jesus warned, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34) Yet, this does not forbid us from preparing for future events of grandeur, (even as Paul desired to see Rome – Acts 19:21), and thus properly planning should God permit that anticipation to come to fruition. Thus, if there is a tomorrow, preparation for it must begin today!
Recently, there was an occasion to discuss the history of several churches of Christ and ponder their future. Through more than fifty-five years of preaching, the unfortunate reality of seeing congregations close their doors has not been avoided. Empty buildings where once the Lord’s people assembled shout loudly of interest lost in serving God. Personally, it seems such negativity would be silenced at least somewhat, were these buildings removed! We recognized some of these now-empty buildings were the progenitors of today’s works of our Lord. While these assemble with frequency, one ponders the future of such places within the next five years, if the Lord wills. What will be their strength – spiritually more importantly than numerically?
Churches of Christ are comprised of people, and people find various interests within an interesting world! This is the value of Solomon’s “book report” called Ecclesiastes. Unless that interest of man places God and His kingdom first among all priorities (Matthew 6:33; Colossians 1:18), then all that one accomplishes is vanity and vexation of spirit (i.e. life). This is precisely why Solomon concludes the whole duty of man is to “Fear God and keep His commandments,” (12:13) Yet, even Christians lose heart despite inspired commandments to NOT lose heart (Luke 18:1; 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 18; Ephesians 3: 1 – 18). One wise observer once said, “Discouragement is one of Satan’s best tools,” for from discouragement grows disinterest, and from disinterest, resentment for the life God desires for us. (1 Timothy 2: 3 – 4) How can one stop such destruction? Simple: PROVE THE JOYS OF SERVING GOD IN ALL WE SAY AND DO! (Colossians 3:16)
Younger souls (chronologically and spiritually) need encouragement to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus (2 Peter 3:18). Let them take part in the bible studies by asking their questions, and offering their answers, even if incorrect from time to time. For the women, teach them to prepare communion, the joy of keeping the building clean and in readiness, the thrill of working with children, and most, the blessings of maturing in Christ. For the men, teach them how to pray publicly and for what, how to read the scriptures publicly, how to serve communion with reverence, how to make appropriate comments at the table, how to make meaningful announcements, and how to preach/teach. Let them learn by doing and encourage their development in these abilities. Without such encouragement, what is to become of this congregation?
All this starts with YOU! If YOU aren’t interested in assuring a “tomorrow” for this place, then why should others be enthused to do so? YOU set the precedence, the example of how one should love the Lord and keep His commandments. YOUR words and deeds impact all around YOU and ultimately their interests regarding God and His kingdom! And while YOU are welcome to enjoy the fruits of your earthly labors, YOU are the one that teaches your spouse, children, siblings, friends, and neighbors the greater importance of using those blessings to the honor and glory of God!
The psalmist said, “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Come, let us go into the house of the Lord.’” (Psalm 122:1) Just how happy are we to be here, and does that fervent delight radiate to those with whom we assemble? If not, why not? That JOY, dear one, might well determine the realities of tomorrow for this local work of Christ!