Thursday, July 15, 2010

wonders of feeding and healing and restoration...

Religious, spiritual, and, today, working...the church according to Samuel Longfellow continued.

"Again, I wish to lay special stress upon the word work. Associated, I said, for a religious work. I doubt whether this be at all the prominent idea in our churches. Men join a religious society with the idea rather of receiving than doing. To secure some personal outward benefit from the connection, perhaps ; or to secure a personal enjoyment or good from the preaching; or to secure a personal salvation in the future ; or because they are taught to think it a duty, or the appointed proof of faith. And they pay their contribution or tax of money in return for the possession of their pew, or of their share of whatever benefits may accrue. But the desire to be of help to others, to join others in doing good, to make the association with them a means of enlarged action ; the willingness and sense of obligation to contribute themselves, their talents, energies, possessions, attainments, to the effective working power of the body, — how many are there who think of this ? And yet it seems to me that nothing short of this can make a real church. Only this can be such a " body " as Paul speaks of, — " fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working, after its measure, of every joint ;" only this can be a redeeming power in a community and the world. Nothing would be so sure to keep life in a church as its making itself a working church. Nothing would be so sure to keep it filled with the Spirit. Nothing would so bind its members together, nothing so surely tend to make them think alike, if that be desired, as uniting in common labors. It seems to me that a church has no right to be, unless it can thus make good its claim. The world has a right to put to it the question of the Jews: "What sign showest thou, that we may see and believe thee ; what dost thou work ?" It has a right to expect from it wonders of feeding and healing and restoration."


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