The best Christians and the Most Visible Gifts
I’m convinced we’re prone to create entirely too much of the most community gifts and entirely too little of the most private. We laud those who stand at the event podiums to preach the term. We celebrate those who lay on the conference panels in order to answer our questions. We honor those who pen the few bestselling books. When given the opportunity, we surge forward to shake their own hands, to snap a selfie, to share encouraging terms.
None of these actions is wrong, of course. But in many our excitement and affirmation, is it possible we tacitly communicate that some gifts are usually better than others, that some are more desirable than other people, that some are more important than others? Is it possible all of us suggest that the greatest Christians are with the most visible gifts?
We often think about one of the first main Christian conferences I actually went to. There were several thousand people in attendance, cramming a great auditorium, singing every track with great passion, listening to every message with rapt attention. But nearby, within a much smaller room, was a second group of people. They sang none of the songs and listened to none of the messages, for they were there to pray. They had with them a long list that will included the name of every speaker, every singer, every attendee. For every hour the big group worshipped, this small team interceded. For every one sermon that was heard in the big room one hundred prayers had been offered in the small room. Their gift was prayer, their calling has been prayer, their task had been prayer. And they also prayed, hour after hour and day after day.
The Lord did exciting and memorable issues at that event. I’m sure those who came to trust there, those who were convicted of spiritual malaise presently there, those who were encouraged and refreshed there, can trace it all to one of the songs, or one of the panels, or one of the sermons. But that has to say that there would have already been any true worship in the songs, any real wisdom in the panels, any great power in the sermons got it not been for the unseen commitment, the serious labor, of those who prayed? Who’s to say any of it would have reached the heart of the listeners if those prayers hadn’t first reached the hearing of God?
The captain of a great steamship may have called for “full speed ahead, ” but he themselves was powerless to actually make it happen. It was the males belowdecks, the men within the engine room, who had to shovel the coal into the boilers and provoke the particular ship to greater plus greater speeds. The chief may have been given a classy cabin and may have put on a handsome uniform and could have been treated with great pomp, but it was those went unseen who propelled the particular ship forward, who provided it its power. His success was inseparable from their labor.
And in much the same way, might it not be which the effectiveness of sermons is dependent as much upon the prayers of the unseen saints as the preparation and delivery associated with even the greatest preachers? Might it not be that correct power comes not in the one standing on the stage but the one kneeling behind it? Might it not have to get that the most essential function on any Sunday early morning is that undertaken by the bedridden saint who cannot attend but who commits himself to simple, humble, heartfelt intercession? Wouldn’t this end up being consistent with the way God has ordered his kingdom where the greatest are so often those who are accounted least? For within God’s economy earnestness counts for more than eloquence, obedience for more than acclaim, submitting for more than any way of measuring visible success. If Our god chooses the weak to shame the strong, possibly he also chooses the very least visible to humble one of the most prominent.