There has always been in every age and place the need for greatness.
However, greatness, to some degree, has been shaped by whatever appeared as the great need of that hour. In some ages, those who rose to greatness were inventors. In other ages, warriors and statesman. In other times, financial geniuses and competent businessmen rose to satisfy the needs of people. In some ages, men and women rose to greatness in education or science. Others answered the call to greatness in the arts or medicine or technology.
But true greatness called men and women from all these arenas and thrust them forth with the challenge to become great in the advancement of the Gospel. To further God’s glory through the Gospel in all the nations of the world.
Some rose to greatness by carefully articulating and defending the truths of the faith in writing. Others in the faithful and fearless proclamation and exposition of it in preaching. Many took these truths to the hardest and most remote places in the world. None of them considered themselves great and would have disavowed any attempt to ascribe greatness to them.
Though some among us pretend greatness, these men and women – even while denying it – were truly great in the most authentic of ways.
And part of their greatness was a willingness for total abandonment for the sake of the Gospel.
Unlike many of us, these men and women truly counted themselves, their families and their possessions as worthy sacrifices to God. They presented them as simply living sacrifices in reasonable service (Rom. 12:1).
While the impact of their lives remains among us, I fear the secret to their greatness is rapidly disappearing from among us.
These men and women were singularly focused and fully committed to one great cause above any legitimate or natural personal comfort.
One preacher says it well:
“O for coronary Christians! Christians committed to great causes, not great comforts. I plead with you to dream a dream bigger than you and your family and your church. Un-deify the American family and say boldly that our children are not our cause; they are given to us to train for a cause. They are given to us for a short season so we can train them for the great cause of truth and mercy and justice in our prejudiced, pain-filled, and perishing world.”
Very few causes are worth our all – God’s glory is one.
But speaking this way is costly. Especially when a call like this is given out to those who have built their reputation and ministry on their family or marriage and have become resident or even national experts on teaching others to do so. Ministries that have as their objective the building of a “good” family or comfortable ministry are not likely to produce many martyrs.
The stuff of which martyrs are made demands a different DNA – one that chooses God’s cause over personal comforts…even good comforts.
Our times call for great Christians not committed to comfort, but to a great cause – the glory of God among the nations.