Though human nature as we know it now is fallen and morally degenerate, it yet stands at the top in the order of Gods creation. Of no other being was it said, In the image of God created he him. Mans nature indicates that he was created for three things: To think, to worship and to work. Under think may be included everything that the intellect can do, from the simplest act to the creation of an oratorio or the founding of an empire. In his ability to observe, to inquire, to collect data and to reason from it to causes, laws and principles, man stands easily supreme above all other creatures. The domestication of the wild forces of nature, the conquest of disease, the amelioration of the pains and woes of our physical organism-all has been done by the thinking man riding on the wings of his imagination out into the unknown and daring to entertain notions no one had entertained before. To make out of the raw material that is a man a thinking man, an imaginative, dreaming man, is one of the most urgent tasks of society. This task begins in the nursery and goes on through to the university. Whatever institution, large or small, famous or obscure, dedicates itself to the necessary and heavy job of teaching men to think deserves the gratitude of the whole human race.
The truth is, dedication of the life to any thing or anyone short of God Himself, is a prostitution of noble powers and must bring a harvest of grief and disappointment at last. Only God is worthy of the soul He has made in His own image. To devote our lives to any cause, however worthy, is to sell ourselves short. Not money, position, fame, can justly claim our devotion. Art, literature, music also fall short. And, if God is forgotten, even the loftiest and most unselfish task is unworthy of the souls full surrender. Complete dedication unto death in the cause of freedom, for instance, is a touching thing and has given to history many of her greatest heroes, but only the God of freedom should have our last full measure of devotion. These are strenuous times and men are being recruited everywhere to devote themselves to one or another master. Let us be careful. No one has any true right to claim my life except the One who gave His own life for my redemption. If He gets my full dedication then I may engage in any good and worthy cause under His Spirit's guidance. But anything short of complete devotion to Christ is inadequate and must end in futility and loss.
It is one of the ironies of modern life that after a word has been dropped from the Christian vocabulary because it no longer expresses any vital content in current church religion, it is often taken up by the world and made to mean not the same thing but something close to what it once meant in its original Christian usage. Such a word is dedicate. This word in its various forms was once used to express a sacred idea deriving straight from the Scriptures. . . . Now I have no quarrel with mere words. Whatever current usage and an up-to-date dictionary declare a word to mean, that is what it means, whatever it may have meant before. But I am concerned when men mistake earth for heaven, confuse this world with the world to come and borrow sacred words to describe secular things-without knowing what they have done. That is precisely what has happened to the word dedication. Through a radical change of meaning it has been lost to the language of worship. And it is highly significant that up to this moment Christians have not felt sufficient inward pressure to create a new word that would mean what the old word once meant. Apparently not only the word is gone from us but the idea as well. One reason for this is the current imperfect understanding of the Christian message. Scarcely anyone catches the imperious note in Christs words. The Christian message has ceased to be a pronouncement and has become a proposition. Its invitational element has been pressed far out of proportion in the total scriptural scheme. Christ with His lantern, His apologetic stance and His weak pleading face has taken the place of the true Son of Man whom John saw clothed with a garment down to the foot, girt with a golden girdle, whose head and hair are white like wool, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, whose feet are like burnished brass and whose voice is as the sound of many waters. The Christ of the tentative smile and air of puzzlement is not the Christ of God. The artists have been guilty of inadvertent idolatry in presenting to the world a false image of Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal our Lord as He really is, and He does not paint in oils. He manifests Christ to the human spirit, not to our physical eyes.
The irrepressible urge to share spiritual blessings can explain a great many religious phenomena. It even goes so far as to create a kind of vicarious transfer of interest from one person to another, so that the blessed soul would if necessary give up its own blessing that another might receive. Only thus can that prayer of Moses be understood, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written (Exodus 32:31, 32). His great care for Israel had made him incautious, almost rash, before the Lord in their behalf. Moses felt that for Israel to be forgiven was reward enough for him. This impulsive uprush of vicarious love can hardly be defended before the bar of pure reason. But God understood and complied with Moses request. The intense urge to have others enjoy the same spiritual privileges as himself once led Paul to make a statement so extreme, so reckless, that reason cannot approve it; only love can understand: I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh (Romans 9:1-3). In the light of this it is quite easy to understand why all great Christian teachers have insisted that true spiritual experience must be shared. The careless person who remarks that he does not need to go to church to serve God is far from understanding the most elementary spiritual truths. By cutting himself off from the religious community he proves that he has never felt the deep urge to share-and for the very reason that he has nothing to share. He has never felt the constraining love of Christ, so he can go his way in silence. His withdrawal from the believing fellowship tells us more about him than he knows about himself. Being let go, they went to their own company. So it was in the Early Church and so it has always been when men meet God in saving encounter. They want to share the blessed benefits.
The impulse to share, to impart, normally accompanies any true encounter with God and spiritual things. The woman at the well, after her soul-inspiring meeting with Jesus, left her water pots, hurried into the city and tried to persuade her friends to come out and meet Him. Come, see a man, she said, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Her spiritual excitement could not be contained within her own heart. She had to tell someone. Is it not possible that our Lord had this in mind when He spoke about the impossibility of secret discipleship? Have we misunderstood the true relationship between faith and testimony? Christ made it clear that there could be no such thing as secret discipleship and Paul said, With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. This is usually understood to mean that God has laid upon us an arbitrary requirement to open our mouth in confession before salvation can become effective within us. Maybe that is the correct meaning of these verses. Or could it be that the confession is an evidence of the salvation which has come by faith to the heart, and where there is no impulse to impart, no outrushing of words in joyous testimony, there has been no true inward experience of saving grace?