Dedicated Servants of Yesteryear
The Gospel of Mark is an amazing book. Its purpose is to show Jesus as the ever-active servant, living and working among men, the “Servant who stooped to conquer” (to use Scroggie’s unforgettable expression). Mark, himself a servant to Barnabas, Paul, and Peter, was uniquely qualified to write such an account. The Gospel of Mark is nothing less than the story of sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom, for “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
This week Becky and I will have the privilege of visiting some of God’s choicest servants who reside at the SIM Retirement Home in Sebring, Florida. Many of them lived and labored, toiled and traveled, in our second home, the country of Ethiopia. They are contemporaries of two people I greatly admire, my in-laws the Lapsleys. I often think, Would that all Christians knew such devotion to the Lord!
Theirs was a generation that forgot the things behind and reached forward to the things before and declared, “This one thing…!” Throughout the New Testament the church lived as those upon whom the ends of the world had come. I wonder, Where today is that sense of emergency – and the sense of urgency?
Like the Macedonians, these pioneer missionaries first gave themselves to the Lord and then to others. That’s always God’s order: first the sacrifice of self, then service and substance. Churchill said of England’s airmen, “Never did so many owe so much to so few.” Of God’s dedicated servants of yesteryear we may say the same thing.
They rejected the affluent society in which they lived, with its sensual indulgence of every kind, preferring instead huts and floods and hyenas and hunger and danger. They were not content to look at missionary films or attend Gospel meetings. They went. They were participants in the Great Commission, not observers. They sacrificed time, energy, health, and some even life itself.
Paul says that the scheme of this world is passing away, and the lighter our luggage the more headway we will make in our journey. That’s what Becky and I are discovering slowly but surely – that our main investment must be in another world. Already our heart is there, and so is our treasure.
“My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.” The apostle Paul could have sung those words. So could these retired missionaries. They gloried in the cross and in their identification with Jesus there. The separation, the isolation, the humiliation they endured! That was the offering of their loyalty to Christ.
In these dedicated servants of yesteryear I believe we have a good and great example. With an eye on the goal that was set before them, they endured the cross, despising the shame.
If they could endure like that, why can’t we?
November 15, 2007
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.