It was the end of June and Mr. and Mrs. Disciple were listening to their 50th sermon since January. They and their fellow listeners were in danger of becoming the “I’ve heard it all before” group. The preacher was a good enough speaker with an effective mix of humor, illustration and Scripture. He worked hard to communicate God’s will. Unfortunately, however, he was becoming familiar to the sea of faces gathered in the auditorium. They had learned his gestures, his inflection and the new was wearing off. It was getting easier to drop off into a little snooze while he preached.
But today, something was different for Mr. Disciple, because, during the sermon, something clicked. The preacher was saying something about priorities. “If we really understood and truly believed that putting the kingdom of God first in our lives counted for eternity,” he said, “we’d take Christianity much more seriously. Christianity must become something we do, not just something we are.” For some reason, the words hit Mr. Disciple like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, it all came together!
His brain began processing data. First of all, he realized that many aspects of his life took higher priority than the kingdom. His job was an example. He was scrambling up the corporate ladder two rungs at a time! He left for work before his family was up and came home after their bedtime. Usually, he was too worn out to visit with his wife. When he felt guilty about his neglect, he would whisk them away on a weekend trip, frequently skipping assembly to do so. He worked hard and long because he needed the money to support his huge house, designer clothing and luxury cars that he imagined elevated him to the socio-economic level of his peers.
Looking back on all that, he realized that by putting the kingdom first, he would become a spiritual leader in his home and still possess the things that really count. His job would be working for the Lord, not just money. If he would be more concerned about stewardship than things, he could assist others and help finance the cause of Christ. His children would honor him for his teaching and example. His wife would grow in her respect for him.
Most important of all, he made a decision to change. It would have been tremendously encouraging to his preacher to know what was stirring in Mr. Disciple’s brain. After all, the purpose of preaching is change, and Mr. Disciple was responding to that purpose.
Responses have never been primarily a matter of coming down the aisle during the invitation song. Visible responses are great but if no one ever came it would be all right as long as hearts were responding with decisions to do something.
Mr. Disciple decided to do something. He would go home that day and talk with his family about how he wanted to change as husband and father. He knew that change would not be easy or come quickly, but also knew that God will always work in the life of one who seeks a closer walk with Him.
From now on, the kingdom would have top priority in Mr. Disciple’s life. In addition to an increased commitment to his family, he decided to work on his other relationships so that Christ could more easily be seen in him. He was already thinking of several that he wanted to influence for Jesus. He would also devote more time to the various works he had signed-up for. He decided that he would talk to the deacons in charge right after assembly. He reached into his coat pocket and crumpled the puny contribution check he had written. Pulling out his checkbook and voiding the previous entry, he made his check for an amount that reflected where his heart was now.
Another Sunday…another sermon…another listener. But this time, something happened.