FROM PASTOR MEYER’S DESK:
Recently I came across an interesting story by a fellow named Hugh Price Hughes entitled “The City of Everywhere.” In this story a man arrives in a city one cold morning. As he gets off the train, he sees that the station is like any other station except for one thing; everyone is barefoot. No one wears shoes.
He notices a barefoot cab driver. “Pardon me,” he asks the driver, “I was just wondering why you don’t wear shoes. Don’t you believe in shoes?” “Sure we do,” says the driver. “Why don’t you wear them?” asks the man. “Ah, that’s the question,” the driver replies. “Why don’t we wear shoes? Why don’t we?”
At the hotel it is the same. The clerk, bell boys, everybody is barefoot. In the coffee shop he notices a nice looking gentleman at a table opposite him. He says, “I notice you aren’t wearing any shoes. I wonder why? Don’t you know about shoes?” The man replies, “Of course I know about shoes.” “Then why don’t you wear them?” asks the stranger. “Ah, that’s the question,” says the man. “Why don’t we? Why don’t we?”
After breakfast he walks out on the street in the snow, but every person he sees is barefoot. He asks another man about it and points out how shoes protect the feet from the cold. The man says, “We know about shoes. See that building yonder? That is a shoe manufacturing plant. We are proud of that plant and every week we gather there to hear the man in charge tell about shoes and how wonderful they are.” “Then why don’t you wear shoes?” asks the stranger. “Ah, that’s the question,” says the man.
And on and on it goes. The man sees all of kinds of people going shoe-less in all kinds of situations, and while they all acknowledge the importance of shoes when asked, none of them takes advantage of the benefits that shoes offer.
That’s a story that can easily be applied to life in the church. Let me explain. We have a baptized membership of 529, but on any given Sunday we see about 290 people in church. Many of those 290 are not “official” members of Salem Lutheran Church, but they attend faithfully and regularly. So when we factor that information in to our average Sunday attendance of “official” members, we probably have about 45% of our membership here on a Sunday morning. Now I’m sure if someone were to ask those who are not here if they believe in the importance of church attendance, the vast majority would say absolutely, just like the people in that story said they believed in shoes. They might even point to our facility at 1401 Hawthorn Road and say, “That’s my church and I am very proud to be known as one of its members.” But rarely, if ever, do they darken the doors of the church.
The same could be said of prayer. Martin Luther once compared prayer to the pulse beat of the Christian. By that he meant you can tell how spiritually alive a person is by how much time they spend in prayer. And to be sure, most Christians will testify to the important role that prayer is to have in our lives. But when you pin them down and ask them how much time they spend communica-ting with the Lord each day, they blush and say, “Not as much as I know I should.” And if you really want to make them blush, just ask them how much time they spend on their cell phone or Facebook or the Internet each day compared to how much time they spend in prayer.
How about one more example? What about the Lord’s Supper? What a precious treasure our Savior gives us in this sacred meal! To know that as we partake of the bread and the wine we are receiving into ourselves the very body and blood of Christ as a very personal assurance of His love, forgiveness, and salvation that He purchased and won for us on the cross. And while most Christians would speak very highly of the preciousness and pricelessness of this Gift, there are those who can go weeks, months, and sadly, even years without partaking of it. They know its benefits just like those people in the story knew the benefits of wearing shoes, but for whatever reason they ignore those benefits and somehow manage to go through life without them.
Now please understand, I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on anyone in this article. Rather I’m just trying to get people to think about these important things that are to be a part of our Christian walk – worship, prayer, the Lord’s Supper, etc. And what better time of the year to do this as we find ourselves embarking upon another Lenten season. This is a time of self-examination, a time of repentance, a time of renewal and recommitting of our lives to Christ.
As we focus upon the cross during this holy time of the year, we are reminded of how Jesus gave His all for us there. Indeed, He gave His life for us there. He made no excuses when the time came for Him to complete His mission. He didn’t say He was too tired or too busy or too preoccupied with other things. He just did it. He offered Himself as the full and complete payment for all of our sins. And in the process He was brutally beaten by the Jewish religious leaders, savagely scourged with a Roman whip, cruelly crowned with thorns that penetrated deep into His scalp, and finally fastened to an old rugged cross as our sin-bearing, sin-paying Substitute. And just as He gave Himself to us, He now invites us to give ourselves to Him – our service, our obedience, our faith, our trust, our love, our devotion, our commitment – not in order to be saved, but because by His grace we already are saved.
Would you do that, my friends? Would you offer your life to the One who gave His life for you? Would you let your cry of commitment this Lenten season be that of the final stanza of one of my all-time favorite hymns, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross:”
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a tribute far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
To Him be all the glory!