The Church and the World

A short time ago I was called to a small town on business. I had to spend the night in the house of professing Christians. I had known these folks for years and was aware that they took a prominent place in the interests of their "church."
My host had just built this beautiful home and furnished it with every luxury that money could buy. He showed me over the place with much apparent pride and satisfaction. When he had shown me all, he looked for my approval. I said to him, "Friend, this house wouldn't do for me."
"Why, what's the matter with it? Any alteration to improve it could be easily made, you know."
"Well," I said, "I want to live in that 'house not made with hands.' "
"Oh!" he said, and turned away to join a friend who had come for a game of billiards with him.
I was left with his wife and sister in the living room. I felt keenly the worldly character of this so-called Christian household, for they were all professors. Disgust rose within me at so much sham, and I suppose I was very plain-spoken to these ladies, for they knew me well. The wife, who did the speaking, turned to me suddenly with great earnestness, and said, "Mr. Parks, do you mean to say that there is no good in me?"
"Well, lady," I said, "we are told in the Word that God looked down from heaven to see if He could find one that did understand, and seek God; and what does He say about it? 'There is none that doeth good, no, not one.' Therefore, how can good be in you?"
"Why," she said, "you make me quite afraid."
"Lady," I said, "if I could make you afraid perhaps it might do you a great deal of good." After some further talk of this kind we retired for the night.
The next day I did my work and was to return to dinner at the same house. I came in about two o'clock with the brother of my hostess on the previous evening. She met us in the hall. "Oh, Brother John," she said, "I wish you would speak to Mr. Parks, for he made me so afraid last night."
While waiting for dinner, we two men sat talking together. I might say here that this gentleman was also a leading deacon at his chapel. He began the conversation with, "Now you know, sir, we can be too much occupied with the future. It is the present we ought to be occupied with."
"Well," I said, "I know for certain I am going to live much longer in the future than in the present, and I feel I do not think nearly enough about the future."
"But," he said, "you can get quite morbid on that line. You have only to do all the good you can, all that you are told to do in the Bible, and you will be all right.'
"Ah!" I said, "but I do not feel that I can ever do all I see in the Bible! Besides, there is the question of my sins that has to be settled."
But he would have none of it. He thought I was quite morbid, and very plainly said so. We went in to dinner, and afterward I left.
Three weeks later, one Saturday night, I received a message from a clerk in the employ of the gentleman who had pronounced me and my conversation "morbid." It was a shock to learn that the poor man had just died, following but four days' illness. Yet the man's own brother said: "My brother died a glorious death. He laughed and joked right up to the last!"
But I said: "Was he happy to go? Scripture says that 'to depart and be with Christ is far better.' "
"Well," he replied, "I cannot say he was happy to go. You see, he had such a beautiful garden, and he was so fond of his garden and disliked leaving it!"
He died. He was buried. He had a sumptuous funeral. An account of it nearly filled a column in the local paper. The minister proclaimed his virtues: he was a very kind man, very active in the church. "To crown all the rest," said the preacher, "he looked upon all his assistants as brothers and sisters in Christ!"
Oh, friend, do not be deceived by outward appearances. God judges the heart. Beware when all men speak well of you. Seek the honor that cometh from God only, for He has said, "Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed." 1 Sam. 2:3030Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (1 Samuel 2:30).
"The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."