|Frank Wright, Ph.D.
President & CEO
In 1949 Emilio Franco regained his speaking voice. Mr. Franco was a West Virginia coal miner who had been rendered mute years before by a rare nervous system disorder. That summer Mr. Franco and his family vacationed in New York, and they made their way to Coney Island.
While visiting the Coney Island amusement park, Mr. Franco rode the terrifying Cyclone roller coaster. And it was on one of the Cyclone’s steep descents that Mr. Franco began screaming. Later, while disembarking, Mr. Franco spoke his first words since World War Two. He said, . . . “I feel sick.”
Well 60 years later, one can hardly open the morning newspaper, or watch the evening news, without having a “Maalox Moment” of our own. We live today in a sin-sick culture that seems to be on moral life-support. In one generation, long-standing notions of morality and ethics have been stood on their head. Surely the “woe” pronounced on those that call good “evil” and evil “good” applies to our spiritually impoverished age.
There is, of course, only one antidote for a dying culture, and that is the Gospel. What we proclaim through the various electronic media platforms we have available to us is the only hope of mankind. Yet our responsibility, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, goes beyond mere proclamation. We have also been commanded to personally live out our faith before the world.
In one of the most extraordinary commands in all of Scripture, Jesus says: “Be holy, as I am holy.” This is a truly extraordinary command, because in and of ourselves we are incapable of obeying it. That is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, who indwells the hearts of believers. It is He who enables us to live holy lives, and apart from Him such holiness is impossible.
Leonard Ravenhill described it this way: “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.”
Our sanctification is indeed the work of God. Yet, our participation in it is required. We are to strive for personal holiness. We are to make choices that honor God. We are to live lives that move men and women to ask: Why?
The story is told of four ministers discussing the pros and cons of various Bible translations and paraphrases. Eventually each stated which version, in his opinion, is the best. The first minister said he used the King James because the Old English style is beautiful and produces the most reverent picture of the Holy Scriptures. The second said he preferred the New American Standard Bible because he felt it comes nearer to the original Greek and Hebrew texts. The third minister said his favorite was the paraphrased Living Bible because his congregation was young, and it related to them in a practical way.
All three men waited while the fourth minister sat silently. Finally he said, "I guess when it comes to translations and paraphrased editions of the Bible, I like my Dad's translation best. He put the Word of God into practice every day. He was the most convincing translation I've ever seen."
All of this leads us to an important principle. Even though we serve the Lord through media ministry, how we serve the Him is as important as that we serve Him. Our personal holiness does matter.
With this in mind, let me suggest four critical attitudes that must shape our service to God.
First, our work must be motivated by love. Jesus established His church on earth to both proclaim the love of God and to show the love of God in tangible, personal ways. It is for us, individually, to show forth the reality of that love.
Second, our work must be done as unto the Lord. Jesus made it clear that when we serve others we are in reality serving Him. We should do everything with excellence, integrity and zeal, for we serve the Living God.
Third, our work should be for the benefit of others. When William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was near death he sent a communication to Salvationists around the world. His message contained one word: “Others!”
Fourth, our work should be for the glory of God. Jesus said, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself.” The direct reference is to the Cross, but the indirect reference is to our role of exalting Christ, of making His glory our end and aim.
Nathanael Emmons described that kind of personal holiness this way: “[It] has love for its essence, humility for its clothing, the good of others as its employment, and the honor of God as its end.”
And what will God do with such a holy people? D.L. Moody said, “Give me ten men who love only God and hate only sin, and I will change the world.”
God is changing the world through the saving power of His Gospel. But wonder of wonders, God also chooses to change the world through the witness of our lives, through men and women committed to being holy even as He is holy. Let us together strive for personal holiness, so that our lives are not rendered mute before a listening and watching world.