In several previous devotionals, I’ve referred to a number of ‘gentlemen’ who gather each morning at the local IGA grocery store for coffee and biscuits. As you can imagine, a lot of ‘wisdom’ is dispensed around the coffee tables. You can bring almost any question to the gathering, and someone will have an answer. Some of the questions are funny and some are serious. The answers tend to follow the same ‘funny – to – serious’ pattern.
Recently, June Humphrey, an 85-year-old sage who is the senior wise man in our group, came in and took his designated seat. As usual, I inquired about the animals on his farm. The cats, dog, cows, horse, and the occasional unwelcome ground hog all seemed to be fine. But, then he expressed concern about his two roosters. They seemed to be up early enough and were in fine crowin’ form. After a pause and a smile, he said, “I haven’t got a single egg from those birds. I’ve been feedin’ em expensive ‘layer mash’ and lookin’ after them, keeping the dog away and all. Still they haven’t laid one egg. What do you think the problem could be”? We had a genuine conundrum on our hands!
Searching for an answer, I thought of a saying my dad sometimes used. He would say, “Our old cow wouldn’t give any milk so we sold him”. It appeared this was similar to June’s problem. With these things in mind, I set out to explore the ‘rooster conundrum’ and also a parallel situation in the spiritual realm.
By God’s grace, I’ve been privileged to serve the Lord as pastor, evangelist, and missionary. For more than 50 years, travel has taken me across the United States and on many international journeys. The most frequent question I’ve been asked is, “What’s wrong with the church?” Membership is dropping across most denominations. Revivals and renewal conferences are often poorly attended. Few seekers step out to make a commitment to Christ. In many churches, prayer meetings have dwindled and been abandoned. People who are lost without the Savior are seldom being visited. The initial credentials for pastors have been significantly increased. Continuing education units to maintain credentials are added. A variety of other professionally trained personnel, in areas such as music, finance, counseling, administration, religious education and etc. have been added to church staffs. Sanctuaries have padded pews, thick carpet, climate control and are usually replete with the latest technology. Lights, sound, projectors, computers and more allow churches to compete favorably with Broadway productions. We offer a variety of worship styles and have multiple Sunday Morning services (evening services are becoming a thing of the past). With all of this, things do not appear to have improved. We still wonder – what’s wrong with the church? Why won’t our ‘rooster’ lay eggs? After all, we‘re feeding him expensive mash.
Could it be a matter of the DNA, as with June’s roosters? Is egg laying determined by the gender of the fowl, which in turn is determined by its DNA? Now, we may be on to something that can help us figure out what is wrong with the roosters and the church. Maybe it’s the DNA. I believe Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, recorded in the third chapter of John, holds a key. Nicodemus was a deeply religious churchman. He was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling religious body of the day. Jesus acknowledged him as a “teacher of Israel”. When the conversation began, Nicodemus opened by declaring that he knows about Jesus and is aware of his miraculous ministry. To which Jesus immediately replied, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again” (John 3:5-7).
Nicodemus needed a deep fundamental change. Adam’s sin has been passed on to all men, including Nicodemus. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). He needed new DNA! He needed to be born again. Those who presume to be fellow laborers with Jesus in winning the lost and building His church must experience a deep fundamental change. Jesus said, “… every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:17-18). We must be born again and filled with His spirit. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants of God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). No matter how much expensive laying mash a rooster is fed, he still can’t lay an egg!
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6)
~ Brother Roy