A great many people today, members of the church, say, “Oh, I love Jesus! I dedicated my life to Him.” But where are these people on Sunday evenings? Where will they be on the night that their church holds a Bible study? Where will they be when there’s something that can be done for Christ today? Where are they? Well, they are willing to sing the songs but not much else.
Let me illustrate this with a poem that came out during World War II. At that time there had been absenteeism in the plants that supplied the needed material to these fellows at Bataan. Some of us remember — we would like to forget it, of course. One day at dusk during the tragic, bloody battle at Bataan, a 19-year-old lad from Indiana scribbled in poetic form the burden of his heart. Early the following morning he was killed. The burial detail found his poem:
And if our lines should sag and break
Because of things you failed to make,
That extra tank, that ship, that plane
For which we waited all in vain.
Will you then come to take the blame?
For we, not you, must pay the cost,
Of battles you, not we, have lost.
With this thought in mind, let’s make application to absenteeism in our own church. Here is another piece that hurts—not a poem exactly—it’s called “The Empty Pew.”
I am an empty pew.
I vote for the world as against God.
I deny the Bible.
I mock at the preached Word of God.
I rail at Christian fellowship.
I laugh at prayer.
I break the Fourth Commandment;
I am a witness to solemn vows broken.
I advise men to eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
I join my voice with every atheist and rebel against human and divine law.
I am an empty pew.
I am a grave in the midst of the congregation.
Read my epitaph and be wise.
We say we love the Lord, that He is our Master, the Captain of our salvation. But you let a captain in the army call the roll at five in the morning, and they’re all present. There is not a one of those fellows who found it easy to get up to be ready for inspection at five in the morning. Don’t tell me today that we evangelicals are not denying Him as our Master and our Lord. We are!
We are living in days of apostasy, and we measure ourselves by those around us. We look at Mr. Jones and Mrs. Smith, and we say, “Boy, I’m better than they are!” Maybe you are, but you can’t really call Christ your Captain or your Lord. Do you remember He said that there will be those who after death will stand before Christ and say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out demons? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:22). But He will say, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23).
I think that we have come to a day of apostasy that is frightful, and it’s easy to see what’s happening around us and to point it out as I have done here. But what about you and me? I am confident that we are moving into the night and that the time is coming—not too far away—when there will have to be a separation made within the church. If the Rapture doesn’t make the separation, then you can be sure of one thing, the world outside is going to make you pay a price for being a Christian.