In this very busy season of life, I have somehow squeezed in blocks of time to do a lot of reading. Most are new or relatively new books... some by new friends I met at the Global Communion conference here in Charlotte last month. But I believe the Spirit prompted me to order and read a real classic.
The Gospel Blimp was published back in 1960. (Before I was even born!) I came across it as a teenager. It struck a chord back then. It did so in a more significant way this time around. Without telling too much its really a modern day parable about what we call "evangelism" and "ministry". I urge you to find a copy and read it. (I found my used copy on Amazon for less than 5 bucks, including shipping).
To make sure we get the message, Joseph Bayly's final chapter "Interpretation", drives home the moral of his fictional but terribly biting commentary on our modern religious enterprises. One section deals a devastating blow to any of our efforts that add human causes, no matter how noble, to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe it is avery timely and prophetic warning to us Christ followers here in America, as we deal with profound economic and political challenges:
"... adding anything to the gospel of Christ must weaken it. Jesus Christ refused to fall into this trap. "My kingdom," He said, "is not of this world". And as if to emphasize the point, He chose disciples of the most diverse poltical opinions: Matthew, the collaborator with Rome, and Simon, member of the Canaaan-ite resistance movement against Rome
I do not suggest that any area of contemporary life should be excluded from Biblical insights and prophetic preaching. But areas of proper concern for Christians within the Church are not our message to the world outside.
We preach Christ, not the capitalistic system. We seek to bring our neighbors to faith in HIm, not to our opinion about free enterprise. To tie Jesus Christ to the very best human system is to tie a star, light years distant, to a dead horse here on earth. Neither star nor Christ will thus be bound.
Further, our unsaved neighbors include those who do not hold our political, economic and social opinions. We may not care for the opinions they hold, but Jesus Christ died for socialists as well as capitalists, for members of the A.F.L..-C.I.O. as well as members of N.A.M.(this is the National Association of Manufacturers-I had to look this up) , for (African Americans) as well as whites. Shall we interpose our opinions between the Lord Jesus Christ and men for whom He died?
"If our gospel be hid in America today" (to paraphrase II Corinthians 4:3-7) "it is hid to (African Americans) and other minority groups, to members of labor unions, to the unchurched, the poor, the unwanted.
""Now we know that the god of this world has blinded their minds, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God should shine in their hearts.
"But in view of this, we should be all the more careful not to preach ourselves, or our opinions, but Christ Jesus the Lord. As for ourselves, we should be mere servants, showing love to our neighbors for Jesus' sake.
"And when we fall short in our witness (as we surely will), when our love weakens, what then? Then we know afresh that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us."
Therefore, let us trust the Sovereign God, not our human organizations or institutions. And let us seek to be men and women like the Lord Jesus Christ, friends of publicans and sinners, yet "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26).
And if He dashes our proud blimps to earth, we know this, that he designs thereby to bring sons to glory."