Before the silver cord is loosed...

Youth”, says cultural critic Camille Paglia, “is wasted on the young”. But it has often been the young who have done most to change the world. Steve Turner’s The Gospel According to the Beatles recently alerted me once again to the religious, cultural, moral and political mega shift that took place in Western society between 1960 and 1970 through the influence of four lads from Liverpool. But young people were changing the world long before the 1960s. In the fourth century BC Alexander the Great conquered the known world imposing Greek culture on it before he died at the age of 33. Christ’s apostles were probably all younger than him but it was these young men that Jesus commissioned to make disciples of all nations.
Some of the church’s greatest preachers and evangelists have been young men. George Whitefield was the son of a pub landlord, with a squint so severe that no one could tell exactly where (or at whom) he was looking. But his first sermon preached at the age of 24 was so powerful that it was claimed he had driven fifteen people mad. In his mid twenties he could hold crowds of more than 20,000 people spellbound at his open-air meetings. Before his death at the age of 56, tens of thousands of people from all walks of life on both sides of the Atlantic had been converted through Whitefield’s ministry.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a nineteen year old country boy when he became the pastor of New Park Street Chapel in 1854 but within months of his arrival the whole of Victorian London knew about him and his message. Robert Murray McCheyne died at the age of 29 in 1843 but despite chronic ill-health this powerful preacher and pastor motivated the Scottish church to establish a mission to the Jews. Through that mission, 250,000 Jewish people came to faith in Jesus in the last half of the nineteenth century. Indeed, without McCheyne, it is doubtful that CWI would have come into being.

Ernest Lloyd began serving as missionary/deputation secretary at the age of 21, and it was largely through his efforts that within thirty years the work of the British Society for the Evangelisation of the Jews (later CWI) had expanded to become the International Society for the Evangelisation of the Jews.

These are difficult times and the temptation to young believers is to put off serving the Lord more fully until after establishing some material security for their future years. The biblical “Preacher” urged the young to remember their Creator in the days of their youth (Eccles 12:1), warning that in old age it is impossible to give our best to the Lord. Jesus warned his would-be apprentices that the thorns of earthly cares and “the deceitfulness of riches” choke the early shoots of faith (Mt 13:22). Each generation of disciples needs to learn afresh that because our hearts will be where our treasure is we must store our “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt 6:19-21).

Supporting mission – Jewish mission in particular – is to invest in a project that cannot fail. World mission will succeed because in Revelation 7 John witnesses a huge crowd from “all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” around the throne of God and the Lamb. Jewish mission, however, has the promise that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26). Your support can be expressed through prayer, through financial donations, through voluntary help, through passing on the message about the work of CWI, or by giving your life to telling Jewish people about Jesus. Jim Elliot, who became a martyr in 1956 at the age of 28, wrote in his journal: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” If the Lord of the
harvest is calling you as a worker and you respond to his call, you’ll be giving away what you can’t keep to gain something you can’t lose for a work that can’t fail; a prospect that Sir Alan Sugar’s would-be apprentices can only dream of. Don’t waste your youth. Invest it in an unshakeable kingdom!

Yours for the salvation of Israel,

Mike Moore

This article first appeared in the June-August 2009 edition of the Herald

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