Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Less Is More"

"Less Is More"

    "There sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him" (Acts 20:9-10).

    Luke's intriguing account of Eutychus and the Apostle Paul never fails to remind me of what a seminary professor told his class: "If you can't say it in 20 minutes, boys, what makes you think you can say in 40?!"

    Thankfully, the Apostle Paul bore apostolic authority as given by God.  He thus restored Eutychus to life and health.  I often wonder about the purpose of this story as it exists in Scripture.  Is this a warning against long preaching?  I personally take it that way.  Limited attention span is a reality, particularly regarding the conveying, receiving, and processing of information.  Not matter how well or how forcefully one communicates (or how loudly!), the focus of congregations and audiences begins to wane if the speaker carries on too long.  Thankfully, this rarely leads to the untimely death of young men, as in the case of Eutychus.  This is good because in this present age, no one bears the aforementioned authority whereby victims of a longwinded pulpiteer can be raised from the dead.  :):)

   I share this not really to comment on preaching duration, but rather to illustrate the truth that in much of our Christian life, less is more.  Our Heavenly Father far more concerns Himself with quality than quantity.  On two occasions, a few loaves and fish fed multitudes (Matthew 14:15-21; 15:32-39).  The Lord pared down Gideon's fighting force until so few remained that victory depended on the arm of the Lord rather than the efforts of the flesh (Judges 7:1-7).  Moreover, eleven men, none of whose careers involved communication, turned the world upside down by preaching the Gospel because they lived three years with one Lord Jesus Christ, and were thereafter inhabited by one indwelling Holy Spirit.  As the saying goes, God and one constitute a majority.

   We often feel ourselves to need more than we have in order to accomplish the Lord's will.  If this is true, He will provide more as we trust and submit to Him.  However, in many circumstances, the Lord operates by the "less is more" principle.  I try to remember that this is true about most sermons, and is certainly true about those times when things must be done for God's glory, but the supply seems low.  This is never really the case, and as we trust and submit ourselves to our Lord, a few loaves and fish, or three hundred men, or eleven disciples, or a shorter sermon that doesn't kill anybody (!) will prove more than adequate as the power of God reveals more in less.

"God hath chosen… things which are not to bring to nought things that are."
(I Corinthians 1:27; 28)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
 (Psalm 46:1)

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