The California condor, North America's largest bird, is almost extinct. No longer does this majestic bird grace the skies. A few remain in captivity, and naturalists are seeking to breed them in order to reintroduce to the wild.
Something else has disappeared, and few seem to notice the passing. Apparently, they are not needed these days. I refer to old-fashioned saints. They were common in a former generation.
Many people thought them a bit peculiar, but they were spiritual pillars of the Lord's work in their day. They were the "God-intoxicated souls," to use the language of that generation. They walked with God and had such rapport with Him they needed nothing exterior for support.
With the passing of these saints, other things have disappeared. An obvious thing, at least for the person who reads Christian biographies, is the absence of spiritual power in the church today. Saints of a bygone generation evidenced power in their daily lives and carried an aura of God's presence wherever they went. They unleashed spiritual energy through prayer. God's ear seemed bent in their direction.
Contemporary church leaders have exchanged this power for slick strategy, modern technology and polished promotion. Today's emphasis is on hatching programs instead of breeding saints. Soon the saints of the past will be but a footnote in the history of the church.
Few activities depend heavily on the Holy Spirit these days. We have become so sophisticated that He is not necessary in our ministries. Instead, the emphasis is on education, strategy and marketing. The saints of a former generation relied on the Holy Spirit. This was there most distinctive characteristic.
Today's spiritual leadership relies on the power of human personality and persuasion to do what only the Holy Spirit can do. Power, zeal and ambition have replaced the gentle afflatus of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the grieved Holy Spirit has slowly withdrawn, few have noticed, and fewer still seem to care.
A sure sign of the neglect of the Holy Spirit among today's Christians is in contemporary evangelism methods. When any one method is slavishly duplicated you can be certain God is not in it. The Spirit-led saint of the past initiated things; he never imitated.
In one of his books, E. M. Bounds makes this comment: "The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men: men whom the Holy Ghost can use--men of prayer, men mighty in prayer." If we learn anything from the public ministry of our Lord, it is that He was not a slave to strategy but relied on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in everything. Our Lord never relied solely on methods to do the work of the ministry.
Our crowds are bigger and the offerings larger. However, the spiritual influence of our generation is almost nothing compared with the influence saints of the past had in their generation. It is about time that a few concerned Christians became interested in making saints to reintroduce them into the church.
Rev. James L. snyder