The year 1890 is drawing near its close. Let us individually consider what is the record made in the books of heaven concerning our life and character, and our attitude toward God. Has our love for God been increasing during the past year? If Christ is indeed abiding in our hearts, we shall love God, we shall love to obey all his commandments, and this love will continually deepen and strengthen. If we represent Christ to the world, we shall be pure in heart, in life, in character; we shall be holy in conversation; there will be no guile in our hearts or upon our lips. Let us examine our past life and see if we have given evidence of our love for Jesus by seeking to be like him, and by working, as he worked, to save those for whom he died.
Of the zealous, self-sacrificing disciples of Christ, it is written that Jesus was not ashamed to call them brethren, so fully did they manifest his Spirit, and bear his likeness. By their works they constantly testified that this world was not their home; their citizenship was above; they were seeking a better country, even a heavenly. Their conversation and affections were on heavenly things. They were in the world, but not of the world; in spirit and practice they were separate from its maxims and customs. Their daily example testified that they were living for the glory of God. Their great interest, like that of their Master, was for the salvation of souls. For this they toiled and sacrificed, counting not their lives dear unto themselves. By their life and character they made a bright track heavenward. Upon such disciples, Jesus can look with satisfaction as his representatives. His character will not be misrepresented through them.
How is it with those who now profess to be Christ’s followers? Can the Lord Jesus and the witnessing angels now look with pleasure upon his church? Our spiritual life, our zeal, our self-sacrifice, our love for sinners,—do these give evidence that Jesus can trust us to represent his character to the world? Wherein is Christ made all in all? Where are the people who are showing forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light? Will the world ever learn the melting, subduing power of the grace of Christ,—its refining, uplifting influence,—from the church in its present condition? I answer, No. Christ says, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” And through the apostle James he declares, “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world”—in patterning after their pride, conforming to their selfish practices and sinful indulgence—”is the enemy of God.” Christ does not acknowledge them as brethren,—laborers together with him. The lack of self-sacrifice on the part of professed Christians emboldens the worldling in his carnal security. Their self-indulgence misrepresents the self-denying life of Jesus, their pattern. While professing to be disciples of Christ, they follow the impulse of their own unsanctified hearts, and thus give the world a false conception of Jesus.
God has made the advancement of his cause in the world dependent upon the labors and sacrifices of his followers. The salvation of our souls was purchased by the infinite gift of the Son of God. Jesus left heaven, laid aside his glory, left the communion and adoration of the sinless angels, and for our sake humbled himself, even to the death of the cross. And now we, who have become partakers of his great gift, are to be partakers also of his sacrifice, extending to others the blessings of salvation.
There was not one trace of selfishness in the life of Christ. All who are laborers together with God, will have the same spirit as their Master had. They will be continually growing away from selfishness, and renouncing self-indulgence, even in things that had once appeared innocent to them.
There is now such a demand as never before for labor and money to sustain the cause of Christ, to send the gospel to the world. Everywhere there are doors open for the entrance of the word of life. Everywhere there are souls that sit in darkness, only waiting to receive the light from heaven. It is not in foreign lands alone that the need exists. Close beside your own doors there are souls that you might win for Jesus,—souls to whom your life may be the revelation of Christ. To these souls, God has set you as a light-bearer on the way to heaven. If your light burns dim, if it goes out in darkness, they may be lost. You cannot neglect these souls, you cannot refuse to become a partaker with Christ in his labor and sacrifice, and yourselves find entrance as redeemed sinners into the city of God. Those who fail to represent Christ, who have not his self-sacrificing love, and are not doing his work, give evidence that they themselves are not united to him. Whatever their profession, they do not belong to Christ.
There is a sad withholding from God on the part of his professed people. The means and efforts that should be given to Christ are devoted to self-pleasing. God is robbed of time, money, and service. Self-love, self-gratification, exclude the love of Jesus from the soul, and this is why there is not in the church greater zeal and more fervent love for Him who first loved us. So many indulge selfish ease, while souls for whom Christ died are perishing.
This is why the Lord cannot impart to his church the fullness of his blessing as he longs to do. To honor them in a distinguished manner before the world would be to put his seal upon their works, confirming their false representation of his character. When the church shall come out from the world, and be separate from its maxims and habits and practices, the Lord Jesus will work with his people. But his blessing cannot be bestowed in its fullness while they are so corrupted with the spirit and practices of the world.
Shall Christ continue to be misrepresented by his professed people? Shall the grace of God, the divine enlightenment, be shut away from the church because of her lukewarmness? Shall there not be a renunciation of the world, a turning to God with full purpose of heart? “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Then Jesus will not be ashamed to call them brethren. They will be partakers of Christ’s suffering, and when his glory shall be revealed, they will be glad also “with exceeding joy.”
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, December 22, 1890