Friday, July 19, 2013

G. Campbell Morgan: The Hidden Years - Conclusion

Segment 1 of G. Campbell Morgan's The Hidden Years at Nazareth is here. Segment 2 is here. Segment 3 is here, and Segment 4 is here. What follows is the conclusion.

Now, that was what Jesus was doing for eighteen years. There was no crowd to sin "hosanna"; no other crowd to cry "Crucify Him"; but alone He did His work and faced all the subtle forms of temptation that beset humankind, and one by one He put His conquering foot upon the neck of them, until the last was baffled and beaten, and His enemies were palsied by the strong stroke of his pure right arm. That is what He was doing.

There was necessity for it, and because of Nazareth's shop there came Gethsemane's garden and Calvary's cross, and so, abiding in the will of God, by victory upon victory, He won His final triumph, and so opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

Now, beloved, from this study what are we to learn? I can only write off for you, very briefly, one or two lessons, and the first is a relative lesson. I never come back to this story of the early years of Christ, and read what these men of Nazareth said about Him, without learning how dangerous a thing it is to pronounce my little sentence upon any single human life. O men of Nazareth, down in that carpenter's shop that you pass and repass, where you sometimes pause and look in and see Him at His work, there is the One who spoke and it was done, who put His compass upon the deep, who fashioned all things by the word of His power, and you have never seen Him and never known Him, and your estimate of Him is that He is one of you - only a carpenter.

Job's judges and Christ' critics are on a level, and they are on a level with every one of us who tries to pass his sentences upon his fellow-men. If people ask you for your explanation of the mysterious circumstances of a brother man, tell them it is a mystery of God; for the moment you suggest that there is something wrong somewhere you may be getting into the religion of blasphemy. Perhaps that man has been broken on the wheel by the Potter for a remaking. "If the Potter break it upon the wheel, He shall remake it"; and God's fairest, highest place of service in the land that lies beyond will be filled by the men and women who have been broken upon the wheel on earth. Do not let us forget that, and if we cannot understand what God is doing with that woman whose heart is crushed and broken with overwhelming sorrow, let us be reverently silent, lest we help the men who drive the nails, and break the Lord's own heart.

But I gather not only this relative lesson; there are personal lessons. The first is this: the phrase "common task" should be struck out of every day life. Jesus taught us that all toil is holy if the toiler be holy. Not for the sake of controversy, but as a protest against the misconception of human life, I tell you that no man has any right, simply because he preaches or performs certain functions, to speak of himself as a man in "holy orders."* The man who goes out to work tomorrow morning with his bag on his back and his tools in it, if he be a holy man, has claims to that distinction; and if that man go down into the carpenter's shop and saw a piece of timber, the saw is a vessel of the sanctuary of God, if the man is a priest who uses it. All service is sacred service.

I want you to carry this thought of the working Christ into all the days of the coming week, behind the counter and in the office, and, beloved sisters, if I may say so, in the home. Remember that George Herbert had caught the very spirit of this lovely thought when he sang of the possibility of sweeping a room and "making that and the action fine."

Oh, if we could get the Christian church, to say nothing of the outside world, free from the stupid and false ideas that this kind of work is honorable, and that is not, what a long way we should be on the road to the millennium!

If every business man wrote his letters as though Jesus would have to look over them, what lovely letters we should have! I do not know that they would have tracts in them, - that is not my point - but they would be true, robust, honest letters. O you business men, won't you do your business for Christ, realizing that the work you do may be as sacred as my work?

Sisters, won't you take the home and make it a holy place for the shining of the Shechinah? If Christ lived the larger part of His life working, then our work is smitten through and through and lit with a new beauty, and we write over it, "Part of God's work for uplifting man."

I learn this lesson also, that no man is fit for the great places of service who has not fitted himself by fidelity in obscurity. You want, you tell me, to preach the gospel in China. Are you living it at home? God does not want men or women to preach His gospel anywhere who have not made it shine in their own homes. I do not ask, "Can you do the great work that hangs upon your hearts?" but, "Are you doing the present work faithfully?"

Are you an Endeavorer, do you belong to the missionary society, that branch or this branch of the church, and are you so anxious to get to the meetings that you rob your master of even five minutes of his time? Christ doesn't count the service, but the five minutes you have stolen. What we want is to feel that if we are to do a big thing in the public service, we must be through and through true in the small things of life.

The carpenter's shop made Calvary not a battle-field merely, but a day of triumph that lit heaven and earth with hope; and if you and I would triumph when our Calvary comes, we must triumph in the little things of the common hours.


* Holy orders is a term used in the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches for bishops, priests and deacons. Here Morgan hopes to dissuade people from thinking of church professionals as more holy than the average faithful Christian.

1 comment:

ed pacht said...

Thank you for this. I'll revisit it, and I've recommended it to others.