PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Lost Passion-Lost Persuasion”. By: Ron Woodrum
One of the great agnostics of all time was Bertrand Russell. He was a very outspoken enemy of Christ and the Church. He wrote many books refuting the arguments for Christianity. Yet, in one of his books he spoke very pointedly to the key to our ministry and mission. His wife, Patricia Spence Russell was dying of a terminal illness. In his book, Why I Am Not A Christian, he wrote about his experience. Concerning watching his wife die, he wrote: “She seemed cut off from everything with walls of agony, and the sense of solitude of each human soul overwhelmed me! Every since my marriage my emotional life had been calm and superficial. I had forgotten all the deeper issues and had been content with flippant cleverness. Suddenly the ground seemed to give in beneath me, and I found myself in quite another region. Within five minutes I went through some reflections as the following: the loneliness of the human soul is undurable-nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensity of that sort of love religious teachers have preached! Whatever does not spring from this motive is harmless or at best useless; It is love that penetrates this loneliness in each person-we must speak to that!”
We live in a world that has no answers. They are looking for answers anywhere and everywhere and I finding none! The Church has the answer in Christ. But just trying to convince them of answers intellectually, without love and passion, the kind that Jesus shared with all He encountered, we will never get close enough to hear what we have to say. T.S. Eliot, in his Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, spoke about all men’s fear of eternity, and desire for answers. He wrote: “I have seen my moment of greatness flicker! And I have seen the eternal footman hold my coat and snicker! And I was afraid!” Mankind facing mortality and facing an uncertain future, behind the facade and false courage, is desperately open to loving passionate answers! This is a great opportunity for the Church to speak up and not stutter. What is the state of the Church? A.W. Tozer tried to warn the Church to stay ready. He wrote, in his book Rot, Rut, or Revival, in the chapter entitled “Causes of a Dozing Church?”- ‘What is the present condition of the Church? The bulk of Christians are asleep! Not unconverted! But asleep. God’s alarm is going off…yet we are sleeping through the alarm!” Another prophet to the Church, Southern Baptist Preacher, Vance Havner said, “If ever God’s people needed to be aroused and shocked, alarmed and awakened to their privilege and solemn duty-it is today! The Holy Spirit was given not to be a sedative, but a stimulant! We live in a time where people get excited about the trivial and shrug their shoulders at things affecting eternity!” C.H. Spurgeon says, “I am sure I do not have to unroll a page of history and ask you to glance down it except for a second; you will see the Church has fallen asleep, and has become…destitute of zeal having no ardent Passion! Every Christian is either a witness or an imposter. If you have never had sleepless hours; If you have never had weeping eyes. If you have never swelled as if your heart would burst-You need not anticipate that you will ever be called zealous. You do not know that the beginning of true zeal, for the foundation of zeal lies in the heart. The heart must be heavy with grief, and ever beat with holy heavy ardor! The heart must be vehement with desire-panting continually for God’s glory in saving the lost!” Tozer again speaks to our contentment with no passion. He writes “Too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right, but without being willing to endure the inconvenience of being right!” This contentment with our current status, without a passionate burden for winning the lost, we can convince ourselves that we are pleasing to our Lord. But George MacDonald reminds us-“In whatever we do without God we must fail miserably, or succeed more miserably!”
We have lost our burden for the lost. We no longer pray for their salvation. No longer look for opportunity to share Christ with them. We no longer spend restless nights without sleep burdened over the fact that they are facing eternity without salvation and Christ! They are not outwardly bothered about it-and the tragic thing is neither are we! Look at the people that changed history for Christ! Men like John Knox who prayed “give me souls or give me death!” “Scotland or I die!” By Charles Wesley who said, “The world is my parish”-and walked and rode horseback well into his eighties sharing the gospel the length and breadth of England, over 250,000 miles! Millions of converts! A visitor was taken into the Church pastored by Robert Murray McCheyene. He was shown the Pastor’s study-his Bible on the desk; the pages stained with tears for those he would preach to. C.H. Spurgeon who said, “If the lost go to hell do not let them go without being warned and prayed for. Let them climb over our bodies with our arms around their knees begging them to turn to Christ!”
Mary Booth, wrote a poem that expressed her heart.
“Oh for a heart that is burdened!
Infused with a passion to pray;
Oh for a stirring within me
Oh for this power every day
Or for a heart like my Savior;
Who being in agony prayed
Such caring for others, Lord give me,
On my heart let burdens be laid!
My Father I long for this passion
To pour myself out for the lost;
To lay down my life to save others,
To pray whatever the cost.
Lord teach me your secret
I’m hungry this lesson to learn!
Thy passionate passion for others,
For this blessed Jesus I yearn!”
Herbert Lockyer tells us that passion which brings tears of burden for the lost will touch lives, like Bertrand Russell told us! He wrote: “Tears win victories. A cold unfeeling dry-eyed Church has no influence on the souls of men!” William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army was asked after his retirement, why they were not winning the lost any longer! He wrote back two words! “Try tears!” Leon Kilbreath, Mr. Sunday School for Southern Baptists used to chastise us for not being involved and passionate about winning the lost. He used to say, “If we shared our Lord’s passion, why are our eyes so dry, our feet so frozen, our lips so silent!” In 1904 William Booth was invited to Buckingham Palace to be honored by King Edward VII. The King said, “You have done a great work General Booth. England recognizes you!” He was asked to sign the Kings book. William Booth wrote, “Your Majesty some men’s ambition is art; some men’s ambition is fame; some men’s ambition is gold; some men’s ambition is power. My ambition is the souls of men!” That used to be the passion and ambition of the Church. Passion for the Lost? Or Lost Passion? You know the tragic answer. That might explain our impotency!