"Out of Season"
Out of Season
By Paul R. Blake
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching; For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…” (2Tim. 4:2-3). The apostle Paul prophesied that the time would come when folks would not want to hear the Gospel. I believe that is what he meant by “out of season.” It would be a time when people have become so content with life in this world, that the message of the world to come would be meaningless to them. There have been times when I would make ten contacts and be blessed with the opportunity to teach and baptize one of them. And there have been times when I would make 50 contacts and be unable to teach any of them. Our world has become indifferent, even antagonistic, toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is incumbent on us to ask: Why is my neighbor indifferent to the needs of his eternal soul?
Although not unique to this present world, indifference to spiritual matters thrives well in contemporary American culture. Several factors contribute to the secular, pragmatic materialism of the 21st century. Freedom of religion has evolved to become freedom from religion. “It is good for one to provide for one’s own” has now become “providing for one’s own is the only good one must do.” Judicial benches and school boards model a form of moral relativism that devolves truth and right into shifting paradigms and malleable ethics. Ours is the era of all things non-material in moderation.
Mainstream denominations cooperate by de-emphasizing the Deity, virgin birth, miracles, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. They have abandoned the higher needs of man: salvation from sins, guidance for worship and daily living by the verbally inspired word of God, commitment to God and man by selfless love, and vigilant preparation for eternity. Instead, religionists preach Jesus "Lite," an impotent, insipid version of the historical figure as the working man’s philosopher and good teacher, but not as “God with us.” Feeding the spiritual man gives way to feeding man’s body, and saving the soul is replaced with saving the planet. “Our Father who art in heaven” shares time in denominational worship assemblies with, “O Gaia on whom we dwell.” Cultural Christianity purchased and sowed the seeds of political, social, and moral tolerance and is now reaping a harvest of religious ambiguity. As G. K. Chesterton is reputed to have said, “Tolerance is the virtue of people who don’t believe in anything.”
In such an environment, where does one go for substantial, enduring principles around which he can center his life and purpose for being? Politics have a tainted miasma about them, education is in decline, hedonism is boring and unproductive, and religious organizations have reached the ecumenical condition of the bland leading the bland. Solomon tried wine, women and song; he amassed a vast fortune, pursued intellectual excellence, and enjoyed widespread fame and influence. He concluded that all of these things were unsatisfying, and that to reverence God and keep His commands constituted the whole of man (Ecc. 12:13).
However, the indifferent neighbor is not guided by such wisdom. He looks around him at the spiritual offerings of the denominations of men and sees a tedious amorphousness in religion. Instead he turns to the material world for substance, solidity, and security. Secular pursuits and material rewards are clearly unsatisfying substitutes for his soul’s hunger for higher purpose, but to his spiritually untrained mind those are the only things that seem real to him. Like a frightened child pulling his blankets over his head in the darkness of his bedroom to ward off danger, so the materialist doggedly remains dedicated to the acquiring of physically tangible objectives as his charm against harm. His mind is closed to all possibilities save those that can be apprehended by his limited, fallible five senses. Faith, to him, is equal to fantasy -- momentarily entertaining and occasionally nostalgically comforting, but not relevant to the rise and fall of the stock market. He cannot eat it, wear it, drive it, or live in it; therefore, he does not allow religion to hinder him from getting what he believes is real.
Communicating the gospel to such a neighbor is difficult, because when one says “faith in God,” the secularly satisfied person hears “irrelevant to my world.” Religion was boring to him as a child when his parents sent him to Sunday school. What possible motivation would he have as an adult to accept disruption of his present state of contentment with the world? To him, religion is still a pointless throwback to a less sophisticated period of societal development.
So, what can we do to share the Gospel in such an environment? The majority of disciples have given up in discouragement, perhaps waiting for the time when the Gospel will come back “in season.” However, the inspired apostle instructs us to preach when is in season and out of season, and to do it with long term patience. The one soul in 100 who responds to the Gospel is worth the 99 door knocks that produced no fruit. After all, the Good Shepherd went out on the dark, cold mountainside to save the one sheep that was lost. So the Gospel is out of season; pick up your basket and go to the field anyway!
Take Time for 12 Important Matters
Take time to work; it is the price of living.
Take time to think; it is the source of wisdom.
Take time to play; it is the secret of remaining young.
Take time to read; it is the foundation of knowledge.
Take time to help cherished friends; it is the source of temporal happiness.
Take time to love and share; it is how we draw close to the nature of God.
Take time to dream; it is our connection to the future.
Take time to laugh; it is the song of the soul as it carries life’s loads.
Take time for beauty; it is sown throughout God’s creation.
Take time for health; it increases the flavor of life.
Take time to plan; it is the scaffold of a fulfilled life.
Take time to worship; it is the road to reverence and washes the dust of the earth from our eyes.
Test Your Bible Knowledge of Patriarchs
I was the firstborn son of Jacob __________________
I was the lastborn son of Jacob __________________
I was the favorite son of Jacob ___________________
I was the only daughter of Jacob _________________
I became the father of all priests __________________
I became the ancestor of Jesus Christ _________________