1 Corinthians 7:24
Brothers, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
(Mark 5:19, and text): —
1. The first text is the reply of Jesus to the maniac out of whom He had cast a legion of devils. This man certainly had passed through a very remarkable experience; and we might reasonably expect that so remarkable a case would be made much of by Jesus. This man will at once be sent out into the world as a witness to the power of his Saviour. The man seems to have thought that something of this sort was called for in his case. He prays to be always with Jesus. But instead he is met by the quiet, tame words, "Go home to thy friends. They saw you go wrong, and are the ones, above all others, to be moved by the sight of your restoration. Go back to your former life, and from that centre work outward."
2. The same thought lies in the second text. The early Christians thought that in their conversion something unearthly, prodigious, had happened, and expected a complete translation from their past life. They had caught the significance of Jesus' words, "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." No disruption of your life in the world is proposed, but simply to conduct that life to nobler issues by purified and sanctified spirit. So the apostle says to these restless Corinthians, "Go home to your friends and to your occupation." Your relations to your fellow-beings in the household, in the state, in the market and shop, are the very points of contact at which your new spiritual life is to get access to the gross life of the world. Let every man, therefore, abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
3. There is something perennial in the mistake of this maniac and the early Church, and it arises from a total misconception of our life. We have not two lives, but life. We have not two sides to our life any more than a ray of light or a current of electricity has sides. We live; that is all. If you would see the absurdity of this division of our life, carry it up to God, our Father. He is a Spirit, yet He is constantly carrying on the affairs of a material universe. Now has God two lives — one spiritual, when He is lost in self-contemplation, or when receiving the adorations of the heavenly hosts? The other life material, when He is conducting the minute affairs of a world or a constellation, tempering its climates, mixing its soils, ordering wars and overturnings here, prosperity and abundance there? All actions of a spiritual being are spiritual. We are the children of God, and to divide our life and call one part earthly, the other heavenly, is just as absurd as to attempt to draw such a line through the life of God our Father.
4. Now, this being so, it follows that the practical life is the only point of vital, spiritual contact with the world, and if you are to make yourself felt as a spiritual power, it must be in the practical life. What is the world to you and to me? It is just our own small circle of the daily life. Now just that is our point of contact with the great round world. A tree is a mighty growth, with thousands of leaves, presenting to the sun and atmosphere a vast area of surface. Now suppose a single leaf should busy itself with thinking of that vast surface of absorption and radiation, and forget that its own daily life was its world of absorption and radiation. And having made this mistake, it hastens to make another. It forgets that its own stem is the nexus, the point of vital contact with the great life of the tree, and whatever transactions it may have with light and air, the results must be communicated to the great life of the tree through its own stem. Our point of living union with the great life of the world is our daily practical life; that is the stem which joins us to the mighty tree. Whatever dealings we may have with the heavens, the result must be communicated to the world through that one point of union, that leaf-stalk, the practical life. E.g., here is an humble, honourable craft — shoemaking. Now the average Christian shoemaker says to himself, My secular life lies in my craft. But my spiritual life lies in another realm. I must go apart there to do my praying and meditating, and get my spiritual nourishment. Now Christ meets that man in his so-called spiritual realm, and orders him off at once. "Go home to thy friends." And the apostle re-echoes the words of his Lord. You are joined to the great world at the point of your daily life. The need of the world for shoes is just as imperative, therefore as sacred, as its need for praying, and singing, and Bible-reading. If it imperatively needs shoes, it just as imperatively needs good shoes. You are called of God to minister to that honourable need. The principal part of your time, your thought, your labour, is held to that one point. If you are not spiritual there, then the principal part of your life is unspiritual. If you fail of a spiritual impression there, you have failed altogether, and any fine talk or earthly experiences which you may bring to your fellow-men from some other dreamy spiritual realm will be to them as chaff and dust. They turn upon you in just wrath, saying, Away with your religion. I needed you. I had a right to demand of you, and all that I asked of you was good work. You have lost your chance on me. And so the man loses his chance of spiritual influence upon the world. See to it that spiritual power goes into your work, through it and with it as it passes from your hands into the world. Genuine material, honest work; clean and sound thought and speech; these are the vehicles for transmitting spiritual power to the world. St. Paul was a tent-maker. I pledge you he made the best tents to be had in the country.
(J. H. Ecob, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.