A visit to a fine jewelry store may involve direct contact with but one of the establishment’s employees. The salesperson that greets and serves the customer certainly plays a vital role in the success of the business. However, he or she occupies a single link in a chain of people responsible for making gold, silver, platinum, and precious gemstones available for purchase.
The first link of the chain is the miner, that person easily forgotten when standing in a beautifully adorned showroom. Without the efforts of those who risk their lives in dangerous caverns and abysses, jewelry stores would not and could not exist. The unheralded miner, laboring in the bowels of the earth and perhaps stressed more than any other link in the chain, does his job in order that specimens of beauty might be available to the jewelry store patron.
I shared this illustration with a friend yesterday as we discussed the work of the church. I proposed that while pastors and preachers serve an important role in communicating the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the bulk of God’s redeeming work happens far away from pulpits. Believers living lives that exemplify and testify of Christ along the everyday paths of life bear far more weight and influence than any other agency of the Holy Spirit. By this, I do not mean to minimize the importance of preachers (especially since I am one). I do, however, intend to suggest that positive response to sermons often (perhaps always) requires the preparatory work of Christ’s character revealed by Christians in the recipient’s accustomed environment.
The miner who labors in the bowels of the earth receives little notice or consideration by the jewelry store patron who seeks glimmering baubles unearthed by hard and hidden labors. Nor do we always realize that our response to a good sermon or well-prepared lesson actually began when we saw the Lord Jesus exemplified or communicated by Christians who may not stand in pulpits, but who walk along pathways of godliness. God sees the miner, hidden to other eyes. Even more, He sees the believer who quietly, but powerfully, reveals the redeeming truth of the Pearl of great price as we travel everyday paths of righteousness that lead to eternal glories.
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)