THE word “Christian” means, pertaining to Christ,—partaking of the nature and spirit of Christ.
“Christian” endeavor, therefore,—that which is such in fact,—must be such endeavor as bears the stamp of Christ’s character and life. All Christian work is but the work of Christ himself, performed through human instruments.
But we see in this country very much that is called Christian endeavor, the like of which we search in vain to discover in the purposes and life of Christ. An example of this is furnished by the Christian Endeavor convention which closed its session in Brooklyn, October 9. This appears from the following resolutions, with the passing of which the convention concluded its work:—
1. That we favor the execution of law, and call upon the executive officers in our towns and cities to honor their oaths of office and earn their salaries by executing law.
2. We protest against any modification of laws in the interest of the liquor traffic providing for the opening of saloons on Sunday.
We protest against the inauguration by statute of any system of “local option” that does not cover the whole State.
We call for such revision of the excise laws as will do away with the screens in saloon windows, and will permit policemen the right of entrance to saloons at all hours of the day or night.
3. We favor the divorce of city government from partisan politics.
4. We believe in the observance of Sunday as a day of rest from labor, service for humanity, and worship of God.
5. We congratulate the governor and legislature of Texas on their defense of decency in forbidding prize fighting.
6. We wish to express our sympathy with Armenia in her sufferings and with Cuba in her struggles.
7. We urge more interest interest in and work among mission fields, home and foreign.
8. We pledge ourselves to purity in private life, loyalty to American institutions, and service to Jesus Christ.
The commission given by Christ to his followers was: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. They were to go teaching all nations “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19, 20. This was the work that Christ did as a man on earth, and which he has done through his disciples in all the centuries since. All endeavor that is Christian must be in the line of fulfilling this commission.
In these resolutions passed by the “Christian Endeavor” convention, there is, however, not one reference to Christian work, as defined by these words of Christ, except the vague and weak reference in the seventh, and the last one, pledging the convention to “service to Jesus Christ;” and the nature of that “service” is presumably to be discovered in the light of the resolutions preceding. We look in vain through the record of the life of Christ for any precedent justifying the title of “Christian” to work of the nature described in the first six of these resolutions. His work did not concern municipal politics and government. It was work of a wholly different and higher sort.
The truth is, such work is not true Christian endeavor. It is political “reform” work done in the name of Christianity,—the work of the earthly arm clothed with Christian authority and power, or what appears as such in the public mind. Christian work is the work of Christ by the Spirit, not with any carnal weapons of warfare, but with spiritual weapons, which are “mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. It overthrows the strongholds and puts to flight the hosts of the enemy not by political agencies, but by “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”