If thou hast run with the footmen

Published 5:40 am Sunday, February 3, 2019

I live in a rural area, a county of small towns and much farmland. The largest church in our country runs about 200 in attendance. Most, however, are less than 50, with many of them — well, let’s just say there would be a lot of whooping and hollering going on if 25 people showed up.

It would seem that the smaller the congregation, because of pure necessity, a higher percentage of people would be doing the work of the church. However, in talking with pastors of all sizes of congregations, it seems universal, a significant problem is the lack of commitment — 90 percent of the work done by 10 percent of the people.

A man once told me his family was looking for a church they could “settle in.” I asked what that meant. He informed me they wanted a church where they could show up on Sunday, enjoy the service, and go home. I am not sure if he understood when I told him the local theater played a matinee every Sunday afternoon. Would church attendance increase if we sold popcorn? I do love movie theater butter, but I doubt it.

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With tens of thousands showing up in churches of all sizes across our land with the attitude of, “how can I be served?” instead of the attitude, “how can I serve” it is no wonder pastors are wondering where the committed people are.

Jeremiah 12:5 asks two questions Christians should ask themselves today, “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

The questions are two separate ways to get one point across.

Question one: “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?”

The connotation is this — suppose you are running a marathon. You are doing well, you are keeping up, you are not far out in front, but you are not lagging behind either. As the race progresses you begin to get tired, wearied as the Scripture puts it. A few runners are starting to pass you. Then all of a sudden a man on a horse pulls up, looks down at you and says, “Wanna race?” You give it a little extra gas, but the horse speeds off. Soon another equestrian passes by, then another. Soon you realize you are the only footman left. How are you going to keep up?

Question two: “If in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

Here is the situation — living in a land of peace. Of course there is sin around, but for the most part, life is peaceful. The people can sit on their porch, enjoy a sunny afternoon, watch the kids play in the yard and wave at the neighbor across the way. These activities are the average day. Then the rain comes. The Jordan River begins to flood, the waters rise. When the waters rise, wild beasts come up from the river’s banks looking for food. After them, the flood waters come. Our peaceful existence turns to one where we are now looking for survival.

How will workers in the church, pastors and laity alike, react as they run this marathon of the Christian life and the horseman shows up and challenges us (1 Corinthians 9:22-27; Hebrews 12:1-2)?

How will the mass of Christians that dwell “in the land of peace” going to church, enjoying the show, and going home react when the waters rise, the hungry animals arrive, and the flood waters cover the porch?

We have reached a time in our nation where dancing, cheering, and the illumination of buildings and landmarks is the response to the news it is now lawful to kill children.

It is also applauded in our country when someone declares they are the sex they have chosen and not the gender God made them.

A generation ago we removed the Word of God from our schools, and now it is looked upon as being filled with fairy tales and unreliable science.

It is raining near the Jordan and hoofbeats can be heard.

Timothy Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Kingman, Indiana. Email: preacherspoint@gmail.com. Sermons and archived Preacher’s Points and sermons can be found at www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com.